Historically lions have been killed for sport (6) and they are generally considered serious problem animals whose existence is in conflict with human settlement and cattle farming (4). The increasing spread of farmlands has reduced the lion's habitat and wild prey base, resulting in increased stock-raiding behaviour (1). This makes lions particularly vulnerable to poisoned carcasses that are put out to eliminate predators. Lions are often seen as vermin and shot on sight, even in protected areas. Publicity of lions as human killers only adds to their unfavourable reputation. Asiatic lions are far more threatened than African lions, and their small gene pool, and therefore genetic instability, puts them at greater risk of epidemics of diseases such as tuberculosis, FIV, and canine distemper virus (6). A population of just 359 individuals is desperately low, but this figure nevertheless represents an increase on a the figures a century ago when rough estimates of the population ranged between 12 and 100 remaining, as a result of intensive hunting (8).
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