Introduction to Cats In The Animal Kingdom
THE LIONS (African Lions - Asiatic Lion)
Lions are probably
the most familiar of all the wild cats, the lion is
also the only one to exhibit marked
sexual dimorphism. The bodies of both sexes are sandy
brown to reddish brown above, paler below, without markings
of any kind. Their tails have a conspicuous darker tuft
at the tip. There are faint black bars "false eyes" on
the back of the ears. Cubs are marked with spots which
may persist on body and legs until fully adult and are
occasionally visible throughout life. Lions have eyes
with round pupils. The hyoid bone is incompletely ossified,
which enables lions to roar.
Lions are the most social of all felines living in groups
or "prides". Male African lions achieve considerable
size and may reach up to 9' in length. Adult males are considerably
larger than females with full grown males weighing an average
of 415 lbs. to the females 277 lbs. Females are active in
maintaining the pride assuming almost full responsibility
for hunting and rearing the young. The male's primary role
is to defend the territory of the pride and to protect against
other nomadic male intruders. The dominant male makes regular
patrols while scent marking the territory.
The chief role of the male is to defend territory and protect
females from other males. Male lions have a most unusual
feature designed specifically for this purpose which is their
mane. While size is an obvious advantage it requires much
more food so the bulky mane serves a twofold purpose. It
gives the appearance of size without the increased body weight
and serves to protect from the claws and teeth of other males.
Range & Habitat
Thousands of years ago, lions were common throughout southern
Europe, Asia, India and the whole of the African continent.
Today recent population estimates number approximately
40,000 lions. The only naturally occurring African lions
are found in the plains and savannahs of central Africa.
White lions are extremely rare and not a separate subspecies.
The White Lions are introduced on our "Subspecies
Color Variation Page".
Scientific Name: Panthera leo
Range: Central Africa
Female: 114 -126kg (250 - 277 pounds)
Male: 204 -228kg (450 - 500 pounds)
Female: 2100mm-2400mm (7'-8') with tail approximately 1050mm (3'-6") in
Male: 2300mm-2400mm (7'-8"-8') " " " "
Diet: All lions are carnivorous. Lion prey consists mostly of large hoofed
animals (ungulates) such as wildebeest, zebra, waterbuck, kudu, giraffe, buffalo
and other large mammals
Gestation Period: 100-100 Days (Averaging 103 Days)
Cub Maturity: 18 months - 2 Years
Cubs Per Litter: (Usually 2-6 cubs) Cubs are born blind and weigh 2-3 pounds.
Lifespan: 15 Years
Predators: Nomadic Male Lions, Hyenas, Man.
Social Structure: Social groups known as "Prides" consisting of one
or two males, up to seven females and 14-15 cubs of different ages.
Territory Size: 250km - 500km (150-300 miles)
Population (Wild): Estimated 40,000
Conservation Status: The African lion is listed on Appendix II of CITES which
means that an export permit is always required to transport the trophy. It
was listed at the first Conference of the Parties in 1976. (All wildcats are
listed on CITES Appendix I or II). The African lion is categorized as "vulnerable" by
IUCN in the Red List of Threatened Species of the World. (IUCN/SSC).
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