Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 09/10/2012

The Female of The Species*

Asiatic Lioness, originally uploaded by

How utterly majestic, and I might even concede the title of King (or Queen in this case) of the Jungle to this most regal of subjects (and for once, it’s a location they can have dominion over, as these are Asiatic Lions, who actually do inhabit forested areas). Bigger in stature than the African Lion, the Asiatic species is found in only nature reserve in India and as you can imagine, this means the number of creatures in the wild is dreadfully low with an estimated 411 individuals left in their home of the Gir Forest. Now the Indian nation do many things well, and that includes understanding their responsibilities when it comes to conservation working with a number of wildlife agencies to help ensure the survival of highly important species such as tigers found only in their country. The Government are creating wildlife corridors between nature reserves to allow species to travel freely to ensure the genetic diversity of species. Isolation of any species will result in a limited gene pool which will lead to genetic disorders and over time the degredation of a species.

This last point is incredibly important and is closely managed globaly when it comes to captive breeding. Speaking to the Curator of Dartmoor Zoo, Colin, the waiting list for a male cheetah can be up to five years such is the narrow diversity of this species, in the wild and captively held. What ever you think about zoos, they’re ensuring the survival of a wide range of species and majority of them have the well being as their highest priority, rather than the entertainment of the public. I know I grumble when I visit yet another empty enclosure, but if the animal is in there, and safe – that’s what’s important.. but perhaps just one photo before I move on to the next specimen?

* Is more deadly than the male – Space, 1996

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