Single lion looking regal standing proudly on a small hill. By Andrew Paul Deer | Shutterstock.com
Single lion looking regal standing proudly on a small hill. By Andrew Paul Deer | Shutterstock.com

About lions.

Lions are the only sociable felines that live in groups. The rest of the felines tend to be solitary and roam freely, if anything, with their offspring.


They live in prides with two or three independent males and multiple females with their offspring. These usually consist of 10-15 individuals, but they have been seen in groups of up to 40 individuals.


Male lions are the only felines with long hair on their heads. The evolutionary reason behind this is unknown, but theories suggest that it is used for attracting females and standing out from other males. A strong, well fed lion has a fuller and darker mane.


The lion’s roar is the deepest and loudest of all felines. In fact, it can be heard from a distance of 8 km. They use it to find other lions and advertise its territory (around 100 km2, generally).


Lions hunt in prides ambushing their prey. A female lion needs around 5 kg of meat every day to survive. A male, 7 kg. Females are the ones that hunt and they do it from dusk till dawn. Males, solitary, patrol their pride’s territory and keep it free from intruders. They occasionally join the hunt, especially when the prey is particularly large.


Even though it is believed to be the largest feline on earth, it is actually the second, after the tiger, that can reach a bigger size and weight. Another popular belief is that the lion is the king of the jungle, but they don’t actually live in that kind of land.


Lion cubs are born with spots on the fur that disappear as they grow older. Female cubs remain together all their lives in the pride. Males, on the contrary, must leave the pride when they reach maturity.


Lions attack other predators that compete for the same prey, like leopards, hyenas or cheetahs.


There was a time when lions inhabited Europe, the entire Africa, the Middle East, North America and the north of India. They kept disappearing and now there are only a few groups in certain areas of Africa and only one isolated group in Gir’s forest in India.


They have extraordinary eyesight, especially at night (when they hunt). Compared to humans’, their eyesight is six times more sensitive to light.


Lions like hunting in groups and ambushing because their cardiac capacity doesn’t allow them to run long distances fast. An adult lion can reach a speed of 80 km/h but only for a short period of time.


30 years ago the population was twice as large as it currently is and the forecast suggests that in 2050 the species will be extinct if we don’t take urgent measures to remedy the situation. This is the main reason why the UICN has included the lion in the list of protected species.

Lion mother of Notches Rongai Pride with cub in Masai Mara, Kenya. By Maggy Meyer | Shutterstock.com
Lion mother of Notches Rongai Pride with cub in Masai Mara, Kenya. By Maggy Meyer | Shutterstock.com
COMMON NAMECONSERVATION STATUS
LionVulnerable
SCIENTIFIC NAMESIZE
Panthera leo140 to 250 cm (4 ft 7 in to 8 ft 2 in)
FAMILYWEIGHT
Felidae120 to 250 kg (265 to 551 lb)
ORDERLIFESPAN
Carnivora10-14 years
CLASSGESTATION PERIOD
Mammalia110 days
POPULATIONDIET
23,000-39,000 specimensThey are carnivore hunters that eat prey. Main ones include wildebeests, impalas, zebras, buffalos, warthogs, nilgais, wild boars and deer.
HABITATRANGE
Savannah and dry forestsEast and south of Africa in isolated populations and northwest of India around Gir forest.

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