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​Ecology and conservation of Asiatic lions Panthera leo persica

Published on: 16-May-2019

Event Type: Seminar

Event Date: 16 May 2019 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm

Venue: ASE 3D Viz Laboratory Room (N2-B1c-16c)

Speaker: Dr. Ravi Chellam

About the speaker:

Ravi Chellam has been involved with wildlife research, education and conservation since the early 1980s.  During his career he has worked with the Wildlife Institute of India, United Nations Development Programme, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, Wildlife Conservation Society - India Program, Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, Gharial Conservation Alliance, Asian Nature Conservation Foundation, Foundation for Ecological Security and Greenpeace India.  He has played leadership roles in many of his assignments.  His current interests include conservation of large carnivores, conservation and management of wildlife and biodiversity outside Protected Areas, human-wildlife conflicts, restoration of wildlife habitats, mitigation of climate change, and using information technology to enable public participation in research, conservation and public health which particularly involves working with the India Biodiversity Portal and the Open Platform for Rare Diseases.  He is associated with other conservation NGOs in governance roles; serves on the Governing Council of BNHS and Board of Advisors of Nature Conservation Foundation.  He has served as an expert adviser to the Amicus Curiae of the Forest Bench of the Supreme Court of India which dealt with the lion translocation case and works closely with the government on several conservation projects as well as on policy issues.  He is currently a member of the expert committee appointed by the Government of India to guide the translocation of Asiatic lions.  He is closely associated with the Student Conference on Conservation Science-Bengaluru.  Apart from his scientific, technical publications and academic teaching, he writes for the general public in newspapers, magazines and websites as well as gives talks on wildlife and conservation.

He has a B.Sc. in Botany from University of Madras, a M.Sc. in Wildlife Biology from AVC College, Bharatidasan University and a Ph.D. from Saurashtra University based on his work on the ecology of Asiatic lions, research which was conducted through the Wildlife Institute of India.  

About the event:

Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary located in Saurashtra peninsula of the western Indian state of Gujarat and its surrounding largely human-dominated landscapes are currently home to reportedly 600 to 800 lions.  This is the only population of free-ranging wild lions in all of Asia.  More than 50% of this population is outside the protected areas, living and interacting with people and their livestock on a regular basis.

The lions had a close brush with extinction in the late 1800s and early 1900s and their population has since recovered remarkably.  In what is otherwise a pretty grim global scenario for biodiversity, wildlife and especially large carnivores, the story of the lions in India is a fantastic success especially given India’s very dense human population and its economic development trajectory. Even for success to endure needs long-term planning, effective management, regular and credible monitoring.  The current conservation challenges faced by this endangered species are largely due to lacunae in these aspects.

In my talk, I will trace the conservation history of lions, describe their ecology, the current status of this population and talk about the conservation challenges and priority actions which are needed.

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