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Asiatic Lions Tested Positive for Coronavirus

Asiatic lions:

Recently, eight Asiatic lions at Hyderabad’s Nehru Zoological Park have tested positive for the deadly coronavirus.

  • It is the first known case of the human infecting the felines and making them sick in India.
  • Earlier in 2020, Tiger being infected with Covid-19 was reported in New York (Bronx Zoo).
  • The Asiatic Lion (also known as the Persian Lion or Indian Lion) is a member of the Panthera Leo Leo subspecies that is restricted to India.
  • Its previous habitats consisted of West Asia and the Middle East before it became extinct in these regions.
  • Asiatic lions are slightly smaller than African lions.
  • The most striking morphological character, which is always seen in Asiatic lions, and rarely in African lions, is a longitudinal fold of skin running along its belly.
  • Asiatic lions were once distributed to the state of West Bengal in east and Rewa in Madhya Pradesh, in central India.
  • At present Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is the only abode of the Asiatic lion.
  • In 2020, the Gujarat Forest Department announced an increase in the population of Asiatic lions in the Gir forest region.
  • Threats:
    • Its vulnerability to unpredictable events such as a plague or a natural disaster, poaching and locals near the Gir National Park killing the lions in retaliation for attacks on livestock.
    • Protection Status:
      • IUCN Red List: Endangered
      • CITES: Appendix I
      • Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972: Schedule I