These lions are on the brink, and we can't let them disappear.
The Asiatic lion is at crisis point. With only 400 left, they survive in one isolated forest in India where they are easy prey for poachers. Just one forest fire or disease epidemic could wipe this ancient species of lion out for ever.
Asiatic lions are on the brink of extinction due to the risk of disease, disaster and vulnerability to poaching. They have outgrown their tiny pocket of forest and are increasingly having to wander into neighbouring areas where they risk being killed by trains, vehicles or frightened villagers.
But we believe that there is still time to turn things around for the Asiatic lion, and that this incredible animal can be protected and thrive again. It’s now or never for lions, and for us it has it to be now.
Help Asiatic lions by supporting ZSL today
Dedicate a tile in the Majestic Mosaic
To help secure the future of the majestic Asiatic lion, ZSL conservationists will work in the field in India, collaborating with Indian and international conservation agencies:
Preparing Indian communities around forest expansion
Some of the lions living in the Gir Forest will be encouraged to expand their range into a new area of forest being prepared in the same region of India, to increase numbers and dispersal to minimise the risk of disease or natural disaster wiping out the population. The Gir Forest is at capacity for the 400 lions living there and in recent years more and more lions have started wandering outside the forest into unsafe territory in search of food. ZSL will play a key role in ensuring that a new forest being given protected status is a safe place for the lions to move, by working with local communities who have not previously come into contact with lions. This community engagement will focus on work with schools and womens’ groups.
ZSL has developed leading conservation technology that is currently either in use, or being tested in Africa and Asia. We plan to extend this technology, which allows realtime data to be available directly to forest rangers, to the custodians of the Gir Forest. With this technology, combined with a unique ‘lion hotline’ set up by ZSL, the forest ranger rapid response team will be able to act immediately on problems and maintain the harmony of the forest with the community that lives in and around it.
Providing veterinary training
We will begin a vet exchange programme to train forest rangers and the Gir lion rescue team in the latest and best disease surveillance techniques and veterinary procedures. This will allow them access to cutting edge techniques learned from our zoo breeding populations that can be applied to ensure wild lions can be treated successfully. We will also send our expert vets to India to run accessible veterinary training courses for trainee rangers. In the long term there is potential to assist with a vaccination programme to protect a proportion of the lion population from disease threat.
We will use funds to bring the Gujarat Forest veterinary laboratories up to date, and to provide and maintain essential kit to the forest ranger teams, including vehicles and veterinary equipment.
The Lions400 campaign also incorporates the work of ZSL's world class zoo:
Land of the Lions
Building a breeding facility with combined visitor experience at ZSL London Zoo that will engage and inspire visitors to support us in our bid to save the Asian lion.
Using inventive and original ways to bring the story of the Asian lion and the communities who live in and around the Gir Forest to life, we aim to provide visitors with an exceptional experience that will stay with them long after their visit ends.
- There are only 400 Asian lions in the wild, and they only live in the Gir Forest, India, in an area that is smaller than Greater London.
- Asian lions are slightly smaller than African lions. Unlike African lions, the males do not tend to live with the females of their pride unless they’re mating or have a large kill.
- Asian lions used to range from Turkey, across Asia, to eastern India, but the rise of firearms across the world meant that they were hunted to near-extinction for sport.
- The male Asiatic lion has a relatively short, sparse and darker mane compared to the fuller mane of the African lion. As a result, the male Asiatic lion's ears tend to remain visible at all times.
- The most distinguishing characteristic of the Asiatic lion is the longitudinal fold of skin that runs along its belly. This is absent in African lions.
- Today, the remaining wild lions are vulnerable to disease, disaster and potential poaching, and have to live alongside a growing human population that also needs the land for cattle and crops.
The Asian lion population has recovered from the brink of extinction to 411 individuals (2010 census). They occupy remnant forest habitats in the two hill systems of Gir and Girnar that comprise Gujarat’s largest tracts of dry deciduous forest, thorny forest and savanna. Five protected areas currently exist to protect the Asian lion: Gir Sanctuary, Gir National Park and Pania Sanctuary to form the Gir Conservation Area (GCA) covering an area of 20,000 km2 of forest representing the core habitat for the Asiatic lion. The other two wildlife sanctuaries, Mitiyala and Girnar, protect satellite areas within dispersal distance of the Gir Conservation Area. An additional sanctuary is being established in the nearby Barda forest to serve as an alternative home for Gir lions.
Factors which are threats to the Gir PA and lion conservation identified as encroachment, forest fire, natural calamities, grazing, collection of fuelwood, Non-timber forest produce (NTFP), poaching, tourism, religious pilgrimage and accidental lion deaths due to human causes. Currently the Gir landscape is witnessing an unprecedented change of traditional land-use patterns owing to agro-industrial developments and urban sprawl. Lions in the human dominated landscape are long ranging, even venturing inside villages at night for food. But they need specific day time habitat patches (refuge sites) so as to avoid conflicts. Such patches are characterized by mostly grasslands, Acacia patches, Prosopis juliflora patches and orchards. Since the land ownership of these crucial habitat patches are complex and largely private owned, they are likely to succumb fast to such development induced habitat alterations thereby threatening the metapopulation dynamics of the lions in future.
Land of the Lions will open in spring 2016 at ZSL London Zoo and will provide state-of-the-art facilities for a breeding group of endangered Asiatic lions, of which only 400 remain in the wild.
Initial work on the new exhibit will begin in November 2014, and covering more than 2,500sqm (27,00sqft) will be five times the size of the previous enclosure. The project is expected to take 16 months to complete, adding a world-class new development to ZSL London Zoo.
ZSL London Zoo today unveils the chance to be a part of its new Land of the Lions exhibit, which is due to open in spring 2016.
As part of the Lions400 fundraising campaign, ZSL London Zoo will be creating a Majestic Mosaic within the brand-new Asiatic lion exhibit. The mosaic will be made up of 400 individual tiles representing each of the 400 endangered Asiatic lions left in the wild.
The Majestic Mosaic, which will take pride of place in the new enclosure, will offer supporters of Lions400 the chance to dedicate a mosaic tile with a personal message.
Dedicating a tile is the perfect way to remember a loved one, acknowledge a special date or simply to leave a legacy in memory of a visit to the Zoo.
Inspired by the temples of India, the last stronghold of the Asiatic lion, each of the limited edition tiles which form the Majestic Mosaic will acknowledge a £400 donation to the Zoological Society of London’s (ZSL) Lions400 campaign.
There are a number of ways to support the Lions400 campaign, from one-off donations of as little as £5 to help ZSL build the foundations of Land of the Lions, or £20 to plant trees for the lions to prowl behind, to £50 which will provide educational books for the exhibit’s interactive classroom.
ZSL is also offering direct debit options; for just £4 per month supporters can be a lion champion and help power an anti-poaching camera or train a ranger in the Gir Forest. Just £10 per month can provide veterinary training kits for treating injured lions in the wild, and £40 will enable ZSL to provide an expert for a week to share knowledge and expertise with local communities who share their surroundings with the Asiatic lions.
ZSL’s Fundraising Director James Wren said: “The Majestic Mosaic will allow supporters to be personally recognised for their generous donations to Lions400 and will create a stunning legacy in the heart of the new Land of the Lions exhibit.
“These magnificent animals face a fight for survival every day, and are particularly vulnerable to the threats of disease or conflict with humans. By donating to the campaign not only can people make their mark on the Zoo, they will also be helping ZSL to ensure these big cats will survive for future generations.”
All donation options can be found on ZSL’s new interactive map of the Land of the Lions exhibit, along with the exclusive Majestic Mosaic tiles.
More news from ZSL
Buy your friends and family a memorable gift and help save endangered Asiatic lions by buying one of our roaring gifts.
Choose which gift you would like and in exchange for your donation you will be sent a sustainably sourced, beautiful gift card - to give to others or even keep for yourself!
Order by 18 December 2014 for delivery in time for Christmas
Sprucing up Land of the Lions
Your support could buy beautiful trees and exciting plants for our UK based breeding centre for Asiatic lions!
Vet care and resources
Kitting out our conservation teams in the Gir Forest
Your gift could allow ZSL to provide vet kits and training to those working with Asiatic lions in the Gir Forest of western India, their only remaining natural habitat.
Make your mark in our Majestic Mosaic
Give £400 or more and a personalised message can be inscribed on one of our 400 tiles in our Majestic lion mosaic, a focal point of ZSL London Zoo’s Land of the Lions exhibit – opening 2016.
Lions400 Challenge Events
Take part in one of our Lions400 Challenge Events or if you want to organise your own fundraising activity, download our Lions400 fundraising pack today. You can keep track of your fundraising on your very own Roar-o-meter too!