15-0185 India's Wandering Lions
Produced by Ammonite Ltd., Kosmik Global Pvt. Ltd., Earth Touch and Discovery Communications India
Category as a finalist: People & Nature
A collaborative project between Ammonite Films, Kosmik Global, Earth Touch and Discovery Communications India, India’s Wandering Lions reveals a heartfelt and genuine relationship between the people of Gujarat (India) and the lions that share their land.
The Asiatic lion is making a comeback. Over a thousand years ago, lions were common in many regions across Asia, though their reputation was not always favourable. Were it not for the foresight of the local Nawab (a ruler of the district), the Forest authorities and the people of Gujarat, they would have certainly been driven to extinction. Today there is cause for celebration; from fewer than 20 lions only a century ago, the population of Asiatic lions has rebounded to over 520 today. But their success means the lions have now surpassed the natural carrying capacity of their original home, Gir Forest Sanctuary. As a result, they are forced to spill over the park’s borders to seek new homes. At least 150 Asiatic lions now make a living elsewhere: some in smaller reserves or patches of unprotected forest, while others are found in densely populated farmlands of rural Gujarat, and they are thriving. This isn’t, as it may first appear, a case of lion-human conflict. In fact, India’s Wandering Lions uncovers a story of tolerance, teamwork and adoration. These big cats have found a way to coexist alongside people: acting as pest control predators, their presence in and around agricultural crops deters and reduces the number of crop-eating animals, much to the joy of local farmers. An open-ended ‘experiment’, there is hope that the lions and people of Gujarat represent a model for a bright future where predators and humans can truly live together.