Presently, Gir National Park is serving as the only home of the Asiatic lions in the whole world. However, the situation used to be different some years back. Indian lion once used to roam around in Asia Minor and Arabia, from Persia to India. Even in the Indian subcontinent, they used to be found in the northern areas of the country as well as in the eastern areas, upto Bihar. In south, Naramada River used to serve as the boundary for the Asiatic lions. Read on to know more about Asiatic lion history in India.
The species got extinct from Bihar in 1840, Delhi in 1834, Bhavalpur in
1842, Eastern Vindhyas & Bundelkhand in 1865, Central India &
Rajasthan in 1870 and Western Aravallis in 1880. The history of Asiatic
(Indian) Lion in the country tells us that the last time an Asiatic lion
was found in the wild outside Saurashtra was in the year 1884. By the
end of the nineteenth century, the habitat of lions in India got limited
to Gir only. During that time, the count of Asiatic lions in Gir by the
Nawab of Junagadh revealed their number to be only twelve.
The years from 1901 to 1905 were very hard for the Asiatic lions as
they struggled to survive the devastation caused by a severe famine.
During that time, the Nawab served as their savior, providing them with
adequate protection. Between the years 1904 to 1911, their numbers rose
to a considerable degree. However, the death of the Nawab reversed the
whole trend and 12 to 13 lions were being shot annually. In the year
1911, British Administration tried to control this unchecked shooting.
Still, when the count of lions was checked in 1913, it had come down to
somewhere around twenty.
Thereafter, intense efforts were taken to control this dwindling
population. The first organized census on the lion population in Gir was
carried out in 1936. It revealed the number of lions to be around 287.
In September 1965, the forest Department earmarked an area of
approximately 1265.01 sq km in Gir as a sanctuary. As a result of
implementation of wildlife management and Gir Development Scheme, the
number of lions in Gir increased from 177 in 1968 to 359 in 2005.