Implications of diet composition of Asiatic lions for their conservation

Authors


  • Editor: Virginia Hayssen

Correspondence
Venkataraman Meena, 701/B, Vesta, Lodha Paradise, Thane, 400601 Maharashtra.
Email: meena.venktraman@gmail.com

Abstract

Livestock predation by Asiatic lions Panthera leo persica in and around Gir Protected Area (Gir PA) in western India results in conflict with people and has important implications for the conservation of this species. A 5-year study was undertaken to document diet and predation patterns based on direct observations of radio-collared lions, opportunistically located carcasses and scat analysis. Magnitude of livestock predation was assessed based on interviews of resident pastoralists in 20 settlements. Lions made one kill in every 4 days and the diet primarily consisted of large prey. Wild prey, mainly chital Axis axis, represented 80% of the lion's diet within Gir PA based on scat analysis. Within the protected area, though lions predominantly consumed wild prey in proportion to their availability, they were yet responsible for majority of livestock loss to the resident communities. The proportion of wild and domestic animals killed by lions varied between seasons: significantly more wild ungulates were killed during summer when prey were concentrated around waterholes. Domestic animals were the major prey outside the protected area. Thus, despite high proportion of wild prey in the diet, lions still considerably depended on livestock. Our study defines focal areas of lion–human conflict and suggests better husbandry practices.

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