World Lion Day 2021: World Lion Day is celebrated annually throughout the world on August 10.
The day is celebrated to commemorate the existence of the ‘king of the jungle’ in biodiversity and raise awareness about the need for its conservation.
The day is celebrated to fulfill the following three major objectives:
- To raise awareness about the plight of the lion & other issues that the species faces in the wild
- To find ways to protect its natural habitat and for creating more such habitats like national parks.
- To educate people who live near wild cats on the dangers and how to protect themselves. Humans and large species like cats can live in harmony together, but only if they understand how to do so.
- World Lions Day is celebrated across the world since 2013.
- The World Lion Day was established by ‘Big Cat Rescue’ – the world’s largest accredited sanctuary for big cats.
- The day was co-founded by Dereck and Beverly Joubert of the Big Cat Initiative and National Geographic in a partnership.
- Also known as the National Geographic Big Cats Initiative, the partnership aims to protect these wild cats in their natural habitat.
- Furthermore, the initiative also works on safety measures with communities that live near wild cats.
- Lions are the top predators of their habitat, and checking browsers and grazing populations can help maintain ecosystem balance.
- They also target the weakest members of the herd, keeping prey populations healthy and robust and indirectly helping control prey population diseases.
- Their conservation also helps protect natural forest areas and habitats, which in turn helps manage biodiversity.
- They have been at the heart of human fascination from time immemorial, beyond national borders and across cultures.
- From guarding temples to adorning national flags, decorating coins to beautifying ancient Indian pillars, Lions have commanded symbolic importance throughout the ages.
Significance of Lion in Indian History:
- They have an illustrious place in India’s history and culture, with their earliest known references found in the pillars of the Mauryan Empire.
- The Indian national emblem too is adorned by the majestic lion on all four sides.
- Among the many other threats that face the mighty animal, today, the most prominent of them are trophy hunting and loss of natural habitat
- Currently, they are listed as endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List.
- In West Africa, the species is now classified as “critically endangered.”
- According to reports, over a century ago there were more than 2,00,000 wild lions living in Africa.
- Recent surveys estimate that in the last two decades, lion numbers have declined from approximately 30,000 to about 20,000
- The Asiatic lions are found in India in the restricted Gir Forest and National Park and its surrounding areas.
- However, in the past, they roamed across the Indo-Gangetic plains, extending from Sindh in the west to Bihar in the east.
- Several paintings, literature, and the records of lion hunt reveal that the lions were part of Indian mythology, royal emblems, and a part of its cultural identity.
- It was only during the British colonial rule when lions were hunted on a large scale and their numbers depleted from most of their distribution range.
Efforts by India for Conservation of Lions:
- The Indian government is already making efforts to protect the king of the jungle through various schemes and projects.
- According to the census of the majestic big cats that was conducted by the Gujarat government in June last year, it showed a rise.
- India recorded the highest ever increase of 29 percent in its lion population from 523 in 2015 to 674 in 2020. The report also cited that their distribution expanded from 22,000 sq. km in 2015 to 30,000 sq. km in 2020.
- Lions, one of the largest animal species on earth are scientifically named ‘Panthera Leo’.
- The king of the jungle lives in a large group known as pride. It is like the wolves’ pattern of living.
- Lions live only in grasslands and plains.
- The male lion weighs more than 500 pounds and grows up to eight feet in length.
- The male lions have dignified manes; long thick hair around the head, neck, and shoulder which makes them appear larger and more intimidating.
- Unlike the female cubs, the male cubs are responsible for their own living post maturity.
- The female lions are smaller and faster. The female lions and their sisters live together. Even the female cubs are joined in the pride.
- The roar of the male lion can be heard from up to 5 miles away. Their roar is the loudest amongst the big cat species.
- A lion usually lives for a maximum of 16 years in the wild and 25 years in captivity.
- Mostly lions hunt at night because of the adaptation skills of their eyes over dark. This gives them a huge advantage over the prey.
- The coloration of these animals varies from light yellow to dark brown.
- The lion is armed with claws, which can be almost 10 cm each.
Note: The overall intention to celebrate World Lion Day is to find sustainable solutions to protect and save wild lion populations from extinction globally.