Of all the mammals in the world only one is known as the “king of beasts”. The lion is the symbol strength, power, and ferocity. The second largest of the Felidae family, lions only follow in size to the tigers. One of the most famous and well-known of all wild animals the lion is recognized by their prominent brown or black manes, the most recognizable feature of the species.
Lions used to live in most parts of Africa in the beginning. The expansion of human beings and the activity of hunters and poachers has reduced their range to the South Sahara Desert and parts of Southern and Eastern Africa. Historically, lions would be found across Europe, Middle East, and Northern India. Today they are only found in wild in Africa.
Lions wander a territory of 100 square miles or around 259 square kilometers. Lions are found in
Throughout the 19th to 20th century, several lion type specimens were proposed as subspecies, with only a dozen of them being recognized as valid taxa. Until 2016, only two subspecies names were used to identify lions. P.I. Leo for African lion population and P.I. Persica for the Asiatic lion population. In 2017, the revised lion taxonomy recognized two subspecies P.I. Leo including the Asiatic lion and the Western African lions and P.I. Melanochaita including the extinct Cape Lion and Southern African lions.
African lions eat large animals such as antelopes, impala, giraffe, zebras, and wildebeest. Asiatic lions feed on large animals as well such as goats, nilgai, wild hogs, chital, buffaloes, and sambhar. Lions also are known to eat smaller animals or even elephants when food supplies run low.
A single male adult lion can consume more than 34 kg (75 pounds) in a single meal, then rest for a week before beginning to hunt again. Female lions are the hunters of the prides but the male lions eat first. Lions hunt in prides and usually stalk their prey before charging in a rapid rush. The lion uses its strong jaws to bite the prey’s neck and clamps down until the animal suffocates. On average a lion hunts for only 2 to 3 hours a day.
Lions of both genders are similar in their golden/tan color. The manes of male lions
separates them from the females and protects them during confrontations with other lions and animals. The lions strong jaw, powerful legs and long canine teeth come in handy when hunting prey. A lion is digitigrade so their heels do not touch the ground.
The cartilage in the throat of lions has ossified into bone and this Hyoid structure allows the lions to have their infamous loud roar. The muscle and bone structure of the lion allows the animal to be extremely agile. Lions can climb often rest on high branches of trees.
A male lion can grow up to 1.8 to 2.1 meters long and about 1.2 meters high at the shoulders. When it comes to weight a full-grown lion can weigh between 170-230 kilograms or about 370-500 pounds.
Lion’s Behavior & Life Cycle
Lions live in packs called prides. This is unique to only lions among cats. Prides consist of several generations of lionesses and around 4 to 37 members. Prides have a clear territory which lions protect by roaring and by scent marking through use of urine and feces.
Lions are polygamous and breed throughout the year. Female lions are restricted to one or two adult males of the pride. Lions in the wild usually breed once or twice in a year. During the female reproductive cycle couples copulate up to 50 times per 24-hours.
The life span of a lion in wild usually does not pass 8-10 years due to threats from other lions and humans. Lions in captivity tend to live for 25 years or more. The infancy death rate of lion cubs is at 86% until the age of two.