News Excerpt
Under the project lion, six new sites have been identified for relocation of lion in order to strengthen the conservation effort of this species.

•    To strengthen the conservation initiatives, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) approved the project for FY 2018-19 to FY 2020-21.
•    The programme has been launched for the conservation of the Asiatic Lion, whose last remaining wild population is in Gujarat’s Asiatic Lion Landscape.
•    The Asiatic Lion is endemic to Gir landscape of Gujarat, is one of the 21 critically endangered species identified by the Ministry for taking up recovery programmes.  
•    Asiatic Lion, being listed in Schedule-I of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, to be accorded the highest degree of protection. Additionally, it is registered as CITES Appendix I and IUCN Red List status is Endangered.

Key Highlights
    The six new sites identified for possible lion relocation in the future include:
1.    Madhav National Park, Madhya Pradesh
2.    Sitamata Wildlife Sanctuary, Rajasthan
3.    Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan
4.    Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh
5.    Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary, Rajasthan
6.    Jessore-BalaramAmbaji WLS and adjoining landscape, Gujarat
    The proposal seeks to create free ranging lion populations within Gujarat and in India to counter lack of genetic diversity within Asiatic lions.
    The motive behind finding a relocation site for the species is because the population in Gir has low genetic diversity, making it vulnerable to threats of extension from epidemics.

    Lion relocation has been talked about since 1995, when the KunoWildife Sanctuary was identified as an alternate site.
    Lions are currently surviving in this landscape as a metapopulation wherein Gir acts as a ‘source’ and other satellite pockets act as ‘sinks’ and individual lions from different breeding populations can potentially disperse among these populations.
    This project has “Species Conservation over a large landscape” approach.  Besides this approach, the Greater Gir Region (GGR) is being divided into various zones and management approach for sustainable conservation.
    This project includes Habitat improvement, protection, wildlife health service, addressing to man-wild animal conflict issues, eco-development and voluntary relocation of PA resident people, research and monitoring, awareness generation, and ecotourism. therefore, be beneficial in further strengthening the conservation and protection of Asiatic Lion in the country.

    Project Lion will entail habitat development, engage modern technologies in lion management and address the issues of disease in lion and its associated species through advanced world class research and veterinary care.
    The project envisages a scientific management with involvement of communities in coordination with multi-sectoral agencies for disease control and veterinary care for overall conservation of Lion.

•    For the first time, the genome of the Asiatic lion has been sequenced by scientists from CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad.
•    The full genome sequencing of Gir lions has shown them to be lacking genetic diversity in comparison to other lion populations and historical samples of Asiatic lions.

Project Lion, Wildlife Protection Act