Animal Planet, India’s No. 1 Wildlife channel, has been dedicated to bringing to the fore incredible stories from the animal kingdom. Taking yet another step in this direction, starting January 27, at 9 PM, the channel is all set to premiere an incredible 10-part series ‘The Lion Kingdom’ which will take viewers at the forefront of India’s battle with the deadly Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) which threatened to wipe out the last of the surviving Asiatic Lions in the world living in the wilds of the Gir National Park. Produced by film-maker Upma Bhatnagar, Executive Producer and Director, Optimum Television, The Lion Kingdom features renowned veterinary surgeon Steve Leonard as the series host.
This incredible series is the story of the Asiatic Lions’ fight with destiny and their triumph over a disease that had wiped out over 1000 lions in one deadly sweep in the Serengeti National Pak in Tanzania in the 1990s. These lions with their valiant fight for survival truly live up to their name - being referred to as India’s Pride. However, along with the indomitable spirits of glorious beasts, the relentless efforts of those working in the background – the forest department and the veterinarians is what truly helped turn this almost disaster into a story of hope.
The Lion Kingdom is a story of how the forest department of Gir National Park worked round the clock to try and save the king of the jungle while battling heavy rains and flooding and dealing with a sudden increase in the number of crocodiles in the area as a result! For the first time ever, not only will audiences get to witness the functioning of the veterinarian hospital in Gir, the only National park in India that has a full-fledged hospital for animals with the latest medical equipment, but they will also get to marvel at the transformation of Gir during the monsoons as this is the first time ever the National Park has been filmed during the rains.
“The deadly CDV virus had the potential to impact India’s pride – the Asiatic lions at The Gir National Park. The outstanding work done by our forest department to handle a crisis of this magnitude is a story which had to be shared with the world,” said, Sai Abishek, Director–Content, Factual & Lifestyle Entertainment – South Asia, Discovery.
“This series is a testimony to our purpose to grow awareness about wildlife conservation and instill a sense of pride and empathy among audiences towards these incredible animals and those working to save them.” Speaking about the series Upma Bhatnagar, Executive Producer and Director, Optimum Television said, “It was the serious most alarm not only in Gir, but in India’s entire conservation history since independence. At stake was the existence of an entire species – Asiatic lions – that does not exist anywhere else in the world. When I heard many scientists and conservationists expressing fears that the Indian lion may not be able to come out of this crisis, I was really worried. Gir is very special to me. This is where I had filmed my first TV series, The Lion Queens of India. I enjoy a special bond with the land, its people and its majestic animals. We spoke with Discovery India who sensed the gravity of the situation and gave us their full creative and logistic support to share our story with the nation.”
About Asiatic Lions
The Asiatic Lion once roared across Southeastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and India.
These regal cats dwindled in numbers in the late 19 th and 20 th centuries thanks to excessive hunting and famines. The last surviving Asiatic Lions can be found only in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat in India at the Gir National Park.
And it has taken the incredible forest department workers in Gir 140 years of unbroken and unwavering dedication to bring this majestic but struggling animal back to a relatively healthy number of 500 plus.
The Lion Kingdom premieres on 27 th January at 9 PM only on Animal Planet and Animal Planet HD.