Great Habitat of Asiatic Lions
Amidst the vast arid landscape that dominates the state of Gujarat, towards the tip of the Saurashtra Peninsula, lies a wildlife oasis that has a pool of biodiversity the rest of the world has lost a long time ago.
This 1,412sq km reserve, with a core zone of 260sq km, is home to the last 300 Asiatic Lions (Panthera leo persica) left on the planet. Once this majestic animal was found all over Asia Minor, Arabia, Persia and India. But the royal families’ insatiable desire to kill and to ‘decorate’ the walls of their palaces with stuffed ‘trophies’ led to a near wipeout of the species from the jungles that cover this stretch.
¤ Shikar Obsession of Royal Court
The obsession for shikar,or hunt intensified with the advent of the British. One can see hundreds of photographs with big game like lions or tigers lying dead in the foreground, and a team of shikaris, or hunters standing proudly behind it brandishing as many as 30 guns. The kind of havoc these shikar parties have wreaked in the jungles is just unbelievable. A British officer of the India cavalry, who was posted in the princely state of Kathiawar for three years, shot more than 80 lions. Another British officer killed 14 lions during his ten-day visit to the Gir forest. and the number of ungulates and birds that must have fallen to the guns of the British, is anyone’s guess.