Adam Thorn Presents: The Last King of India
India is home to many endangered species. Large mammals such as the Bengal tiger and the Asian elephant share the subcontinent with over a billion people. India is also home to the last surviving Asiatic lion. Not so long ago, these lions could be found all over Southeastern Europe, the Middle East, and much of India. However, due to hunting and loss of their habitat, they are now reduced to only about 511. The Asiatic lion is slightly smaller than the African lion and has a distinctive fold of skin on the belly that sets it apart from its larger cousin.
The spotted deer, also known as the chital, are the most common hoofed animal in the region. Over the last few years, their numbers have exploded. This has turned them into a staple food in the Asiatic lion diet. Previously, cattle were the favorite food of the lions. This caused a huge problem and the government had to reimburse farmers for lost cattle so they would stop poisoning the lions.
The cattle herders of the Gir Forest are a nomadic group called the Maldhari. They have lived there for over 700 years and are the only ones allowed to live in the protected forest. Most of the villagers that live around the forest are reluctant to venture inside for fear of lion attacks. Lions are most active in the early morning and the evening.
The big question is why are the lions moving out of the protected forest and closer to people?
As Adam Thorn heads deeper into the forest in search for the Asiatic lion, he meets many amazing animals along the way including a few magnificent bird species. After a few days of tracking on foot and by vehicle, he finally spots a female Asiatic lion that is calmly resting in the distance. Only a few of them exist on the planet and they are all to be found in Gujarat. In fact, the Asiatic lion is the rarest and most endangered large carnivore.
After spending two weeks in the jungle, the answer becomes clear. The lions are not moving because of a lack of food. Their reason for spreading out is quite different. Find out what it is now.