Survival of the Asian lion is endangered. The Asian lion once occurred in southeast Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and India. By 1884, it survived only in an area of about 3 000 square kilometres (1,140 mi.2) in northern India's Gir Forest, under the private protection of the ruler of the small state. Official protection by the Imperial government was given in 1900, but with increasing human population, overgrazing, and destruction of forest cover, suitable habitat has been reduced to about 1 300 km2 (494 mi.2).
There are now two surviving populations of Asiatic lions. In 2001 there were approximately 225 to 275 wild lions in the Gir Forest Sanctuary. The other is an artificial population made up of animals scattered around the world in zoos. In 2000 there were about 82 of these pure-blooded Asiatic lions altogether.
Asiatic lions are slightly smaller than their African relatives. (The Asian and African lions are subspecies of Panthera leo). An average adult male weighs about 175 kg (385 lb.) and adult females about 115 kg (253 lb.)
The pride size of the Asian lion also tends to be smaller. This may be accounted for by the fact that male Asiatic lions do not tend to be part of a pride. In general the prey size is smaller in India so the males do not need to be part of a group effort in order to catch their food.