INDIA: On 10 August, the world celebrates World Lion Day to raise awareness and to educate people, and find sustainable solutions to protect and save wild lion populations from extinction globally. Lions are listed as a vulnerable species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species,
The rapid decrease in the big cat’s population forced a group of non-profits and tourism companies to come forward and create World Lion Day to celebrate the animal and get the world’s attention. Dereck and Beverly Joubert, a husband-and-wife team who has a great passion for big cats, the second-largest cats, began the initiative in 2013, under the National Geographic Society’s Big Cat Initiative to protect the endangered cats living in the wild. A few other organisations such as Panthera, and others also supported the great initiative.
World Lion Day is celebrated with three main objectives:
- To raise awareness of the plight of the big cat and the issues that the species faces in the wild.
- To find ways to protect the big cat’s natural environment, such as keeping their habitat area free of humans and creating more national parks,
- And to educate people who live near wild cats on how to protect themselves, and live in harmony together.
Asiatic Lions roar louder today
Lions (scientific name Panthera leo), the ‘king of the jungle,’ once found throughout Africa, Asia, and Europe are almost on the verge of extinction. India is playing her role royally in conserving the majestic Asiatic Lion, the distant cousin of the much bigger African lions at the protected territory of Sasan-Gir National Park in Gujarat. The number of the big cat in India was reported as 674 in 2020. It, in fact, is one of the five big cats that are found in India; the other four being the Royal Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, clouded leopard, and snow leopard.
Indian Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has also greeted all those passionate about lion conservation on World Lion Day. In a series of tweets, the Prime Minister said; “The lion is majestic and courageous. India is proud to be home to the Asiatic Lion. Today, I convey my greetings to all those passionate about its conservation. It would make you happy that the last few years have seen a steady increase in India’s lion population. When I was serving as Gujarat CM, I had the opportunity to work towards ensuring safe and secure habitats for the Gir Lions. A number of initiatives were taken which involved local communities and global best practices to ensure habitats are safe and tourism also gets a boost.”
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