Lions are associated mainly with the African grasslands. Few people know that in India they once roamed the plains of Haryana and Punjab, wandered as far as Bihar in the east and above the Narmada in the south, and walked the grasslands and scrub forests around Delhi. Today, the Asiatic lion has been reduced to one tiny population in a single forest of Gujarat.
Has the Asiatic lion been so spectacularly unfortunate because it is not secretive enough to survive hunters and poachers? Is its survival the outcome of one prince’s efforts? Could a single epidemic wipe it out forever?
This book celebrates an animal whose magnificent beauty has been the cause of its tragic destiny. The earliest extract included here dates from 1884 and is about shikar; the newest, written in 2008, analyses the implications of politics for the lion’s survival. Some pieces charm and entertain with their vivid literary style and their close observation of nature; others explain population patterns and genetic reduction. The editor’s erudite Introduction provides a historical overview.