Posted by: Hitesh Kamaliya on
May 22, 2011
Lion cubs are better off in Gujarat than in Africa. At least this seems to be the truth when one takes a look at the survival rate of Asiatic lions of Gujarat. It is higher than their African counterparts.
No less than 56 per cent cubs survive till the age of three years. This is the age when they move out of their pride in search of their own new territory and pride.
In comparison, only 20 per cent of African lion cubs survive beyond two years while 27 per cent fail to make it to three years. The website of Kalahari Predator Conservation Trust quoting International Union for Conservation of Nature has reported, "Among African lions, only 20 per cent of the cubs live for more than two years of life. This is primarily due to food shortage, negligence and takeover of power by other males. About 27 per cent of cubs die from hierarchy invasion of another male lion."
This high survival rate in Gujarat's Gir sanctuary was highlighted in a study conducted by Dr V Meena of the Wildlife Institute of India titled "Reproductive Strategy and Behaviour of Male Asiatic Lions". The study also reveals that survival rate of cubs is lowest in the first year of birth and gradually increases in second and third year.
The survival of cubs depends on infanticide (which results in death of 60 per cent of the cubs), abandonment (13 per cent) and other natural causes (26 per cent). Early mortality of cubs due to infanticide was the chief factor limiting their survival, she revealed.
Forest officials said that the 2010 census recorded 77 cubs who were below three years of age. Of these, 23 each were male and female cubs and the rest could not be identified by the enumerators as the cubs were too small.
Dr Meena says, "There are many scenarios for African lions but the survival rate is comparable and better in most cases for Asiatic lions." The study also brought out the fact that incidents of death are more outside protected areas.
Yadvendradev Jhala, scientist with Wildlife Institute of India, agreed with Meena's findings and added: "Higher the survival rate, better is the population growth."
Dr HS Singh, additional principal chief conservator of forests, says, "The survival ratio among African cubs is around 25-30 per cent. The higher survival rate in Gir has increased the lion population by 15 per cent, as per the 2010 census."