October 25, 2021
The Persian lion (formerly Panthera leo persica, part of Panthera leo leo since 2017), also called the Indian lion or Asian lion, is a designation for the Asian population of lion (Panthera leo), specifically the subspecies Berber lion (Panthera leo leo). The historical distribution of this lion stretched in a strip of territory from Turkey in the west to central India in the east. Until 2021, he lives only in the Indian state of Gujarat and is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Its population has been growing slowly since the 1970s: according to the 2017 census, it reached a total of 650 individuals, and by June 2020 it had risen to 674 individuals. Attempts to reintroduce to other sites have so far failed. Compared to African lion populations, Persian lions have several peculiarities. They reach, on average, a slightly smaller height and weight (males 160 kg, females 117 kg) and the mane of males is usually smaller (especially on the top of the head). They have a longitudinal lobe of loose skin on their bellies, which African lions lack. From the point of view of social organization, the main difference is that their packs are not so numerous and seldom include adult males. They usually join the lionesses only at the time of mating or sometimes also when consuming larger prey. The most important prey of Persian lions are various species of ungulates (especially deer and wild turs), while quite often they kill domestic animals. Mating usually takes place in autumn, pregnancy lasts approximately 110 days and the female then casts a maximum of seven young (usually two to three), which become independent at the age of two. The females then remain in the pack, the males go away, while they can form small clans that live together. The main threat to Asian lions used to be hunting, now they are diseases, other lions, anthropogenic accidents and occasional conflicts with the human population due to the killing of domestic animals. Lions played an important role in many Asian cultures, symbolizing above all strength and majesty.