Good news comes from Pretoria where scientists have successfully produced the first ever pair of lion cubs born by artificial insemination. The 2 cubs, a male and a female, named Victor and Isabel are doing well at a conservation centre outside Pretoria.
This news is particularly significant as the number of lions both African and Asiatic has been dwindling. Lions are said to be extinct in 26 African countries. The Asiatic lion seems to be in danger with 14 lions reported dead in September at the Gir sanctuary. The dead included cubs. This sanctuary is the last abode of the Asiatic lion. No foul play is suspected and the deaths were largely due to infighting said the reports.
According to Andre Ganswindt, the Director of Pretoria University’s Mammal Research Institute the little cubs Victor and Isabel are healthy and normal. His team collected sperm from a healthy lion and luckily it was successful. His team’s breakthrough came after 18 months of intensive trials. He opined that this could be repeated and the technique used to save other endangered big cats. The number of wild African lions has fallen by 43% in the last 2 decades. An estimated 20, 000 are left in the wild.
Lions are the only social cats that live in groups known as pride. A pride is the family unit that may have up to 3 males, a dozen or so females and their cubs.