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Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project

India Akuma_no_mi Offline
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Hey @GuateGojira @peter @chaos @Pckts was going through old threads on whether Asiatic lions were recently introduced to India (as Valmik Thapar argues); I recently came across a study by a group of 29 researchers published (in 2020) in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS)" - it's a peer-reviewed journal and the second most cited scientific journal. 

Here's a link to the study:

They generated the whole-genome sequence of extinct and living lions and based on their research, have made the following three claims (quoting directly from the study):

1. "Similarly, mitochondrial data from this study (SI Appendix, Fig. S1) and previous studies (1214) suggested that extinct North African lions shared a more recent common ancestor with Asiatic, rather than West African lions, which is incongruent with genome-wide data strongly linking North African lions with West African lions "

2. "Studies based on mtDNA argued that the North African lion could be restored using the most closely related extant population, the Indian lions (14). However, we show that, while Indian and North African lions are closely related based on mtDNA (SI Appendix, Fig. S1), genome-wide data reveal West African lions to be the most-closely related lineage (Fig. 1B). Thus, we conclude that any scope for restoration of the North African lion should consider the West African as a better “donor” population than the Indian lion."    

3. "Furthermore, they [our results] may be relevant to the Indian subcontinent, where today lions are only found around the Gir Forest on the Kathiawar Peninsula of Gujarat. First, consistent with previous publications (3446), we found no evidence to support the recent claim that the remaining population is not indigenous to the region, but instead were introduced from outside of India (47V. Thapar, R. Thapar, Y. Ansari, Exotic Aliens: The Lion & The Cheetah in India, (Aleph Book Company, New Delhi, 2013).) as our Indian lions are clearly genetically distinct to the other sampled populations ".

Hope this is helpful!
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