The last Country level assessment of wild population of tigers in India, undertaken during 2010, estimated 1,707 tigers (1,520 being the lower limit and 1,909 being the upper limit of the estimated range).
The population of Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica) in Gir National Park, Sanctuary and other areas of Greater Gir (Brihad Gir) estimated by the Government of Gujarat in 2010 was estimated to be 411 lions.
These estimates were mentioned on 13th March in Rajya Sabha by Jayanthi Natarajan, India’s Minister of State for Environment & Forest.
Gir forest has the only wild population of Asiatic lion in the world, she stated.
The Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) is a subspecies of tiger native to Indian subcontinent and its geographical range includes most of the States in India. The Bengal tiger also occurs in Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan.
The Tiger was adopted as India’s National Animal in place of the Lion in a meeting of the Indian Board for Wildlife held in 1972 in view of the three main reasons: global importance of Tiger and its existence over the entire Country, necessity for its strict protection all over the Country, presence of tiger in as many as 16 States whereas Lion being found only in one State.
She declared that at present there was no proposal under consideration with the Government to replace it with the Asiatic lion. The Minister added that presently, Bengal tiger continues to be India’s National Animal.
Natarajan further stated that the India’s Planning Commission has approved, in principle, a project for “Conservation of Asiatic lion in Greater Gir Region” to be implemented by the Government of Gujarat over a period of five years at the cost of Rs.262.36 crores including central assistance of Rs.236.63 crores.
The approved Asiatic lion project, inter alia, includes creation of infrastructure for promotion of eco-tourism in the Gir forest.