x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Historical significance

GIR, INDIA // Technically known as Panthera leo persica, the Asiatic lion is slightly smaller than its sub-Saharan counterpart, with a more modest mane and a distinctive flap of skin along its belly. @Body-Infobox2:Although the African lion is more common - numbering about 40,000 - many of the best known historic and cultural references are to the Asiatic variety. It was the Asiatic lion that Daniel would have faced in the biblical lions' den and which the Romans set upon the early Christians.

In India, the national emblem - printed on money and passports - is based on a sculpture of four Asiatic lions erected 2,250 years ago under Emperor Ashoka. @Email:hgardner@thenational.ae