Gujarat’s Lion Pride!

The genetics of all living creatures evolve to adapt to new living conditions and survive.

The truth of what Darwin said long ago is being brought to bear by some amazing new discoveries.

Consider how elephants are learning to avoid land mines in war torn Angola. You can read more about this incredible development in an article written in July 2007 by Leon Marshall for National Geographic News.

Then, look at how elephants in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda are being born without tusks as “a rapid and effective evolutionary response to escape slaughter by ruthless and resourceful poachers who kill elephants for their ivory trophies.” More details about this amazing fact is available here on BBC News.

If the facts above are not convincing enough, you can watch India’s Wandering Lions, a documentary on how Asiatic Lions in and around Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary in South Gujarat are adapting their hunting instincts to work alongside humans in fields and orchards.

I watched India’s Wandering Lions on Discovery Channel a few days ago, and was left feeling simultaneously wondrous and bemused.

I felt wondrous because who would have thought that predators and humans can mill about in a farm field together?

As for my feeling of bemusement? Well, that was on account of the still-to-be-unravelled mystery of how genetics adapt to new environs. Elephants born without tusks is speculated to be because of a genetic mutation.

Catch the documentary if you can on Discovery Channel and tell me, if you weren’t blown away like I was.

I think you will say you were.

Because, like me, you probably won’t believe your eyes when you see villagers not going after lions who kill their cattle. There are even scenes in the film that show two men on a motorbike waiting nonchalantly for a lion to stroll across a stream first. Man and animal, both seem comfortable in each other’s presence.

You will also, just like I did,  possibly feel wondrous at the fact that the people in Southern Gujarat are, to quote Praveen Singh of Discovery Channel, “proud to have lions in their state and most know that the big cats are not going to attack unless provoked”.

And why not? After all, the Asiatic lions have disappeared across Europe and Asia and only have an abode now amongst the people of Gujarat.

Not just that.

The acceptance of the local people and the careful care taken by the good men and women of India’s forest reserve department have increased the population of the Asiatic Lion from just around 20 in 1893 to over 500 today.

The lions are doing their bit for the people too, in a unique, reciprocal relationship. You see, they are working in tandem with the farmers to clear fields and orchards of herbivores such as deer that cause wholesale damage to crops.

Interested in learning more? You can either read Praveen Singh’s interview by Darshan Desai on Mail Online India here or better still watch this beautifully narrated and produced documentary on Discovery Channel. Some of the shots using night cameras even reminded me of the Hollywood blockbuster Zero Dark Thirty. Yes, that does mean the production values don’t disappoint.

By the way, India’s Wandering Lions is produced by the same company, Kosmic Global Media, who had earlier brought Tiger Sisters of Telia to Discovery Channel’s viewers. That film told yet another amazing story of animals adapting to their environment to survive. I had blogged about that earlier in Tigers earn their stripes!

Disclaimer: Uday Sinh Wala, the executive producer for Kosmic Global Media, is a close friend. But I hope I have earned the trust of readers of my blog enough for them to know that I only write about what I truly believe in.

#Lions #wildlife #GeneticEvolution

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Featured Cover Image Credit: Asiatic Lion image by Shaunak Modi ( CC By 2.0)


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