Gir lions are the remnant of the once populous Asiatic lion. They are restricted to the Gir Forest in Gujarat, India. Recently, they have been seen doing a rather unusual thing – hanging out at the beach.
Gir lions are facing a number of stresses due to overcrowding and the march to the beach may be a response to that overcrowding.
Lions usually spend their time in forest and grassland – but a dozen or so have recently been seen hanging out at the beach. It may be a sign that the species is increasing in numbers and spreading out of protected areas and over to the beach.
Officials in India are actively studying the Gir lions and the threat of overcrowding to the species.
Beach going lions may be a good thing for the locals, too as the lions appear to be eating wild boars and other prey animals that ruin local crops. Boar, as we have noted, are a problem in many nations and lions frequently eat them. Nilgai are the largest Asian antelope and also are a problem for farmers. They are also on the lion’s menu.
Since 2015 the total population of lions has increased from 523 to 674 at the 2020 census.
About 104 now live along the Saurashtra coast with 17 along the Bhavnagar coast, That coast has been developed as a satellite home for Gir lions moving out of the sanctuary. The lions have adapted well to the coastal climate. In fact, the number of lions may be higher than 674, and could be over 1,000.