This lone representative of the Panthera leo species outside of Africa was driven almost to extinction by human interference, but it is thanks to humans that it has been brought back from the brink. The official seal of the Indian state of Gujarat, in which Sasan Gir National Park is located, depicts a trio of lions sitting fierce and proud above the state’s name rendered in Gujarati. At last, this symbolic veneration is being reflected in the attitudes of modern-day Indians, who work together with park officials to monitor and protect the Asiatic lion population.
A lion census takes places every five years, involving people from surrounding villages who assiduously count and record each lion they come across. Around 300 rangers, many of them recruited from surrounding villages, are employed to track the big cats, while three dedicated rescue teams work to bring injured lions to a treatment centre located at the park’s headquarters. Railways and wells have also been fenced off in an effort to prevent accidents.