The Gir Forest, to which the Indian lion had finally retired by the turn of the century, was situated in the princely state of Junagadh before Indian became independent. Without any doubt the continued survival of lions is due to the protection given to them by the Nawabs of Junagadh. At the end of the 19th century, poaching and uncontrolled shooting had brought the lions to the verge of extinction and it was believed that not more than 20 existed. The Nawab's government then placed a strict ban on shooting which was enforced rigidly.
The lion was for a period of time the national animal of India and still continues to be a national animal from its presence on the nation's crest, the lions of Ashoka.