Family: Felidae ?? Species: Panthera leo
Famously referred to the King of the jungle, they actually do not inhabit jungles
It is partially true to refer to the lions as ‘King of the beasts’.?
It is a fact that they really are kings of the predatory beasts, but
they can be easily backed down or killed by elephants and water
buffalo.? A pack of hyenas can also back down or even kill a solitary
But they are in themselves packed for the kill. They
have strong, compact bodies and powerful forelegs, teeth, and jaws for
pulling down and killing prey. Their coats are yellow-gold, and adult
males have long, dark, shaggy manes. Young lions have light spotting on
their coats. Their strength is also reflected during mating whereby can
copulate up to as many as 100 times in a 24 hour period
Male lions grow larger than females, reaching up to ten feet long
(females reach up to nine feet long), plus a two- to three-foot-long
tail. Male lions weigh from 330 to 530 pounds; females weigh 270 to 300
pounds. Lions stand between 3-4 feet tall at the shoulder.
They are the only true social members of the cat family and live in groups called prides.
All females in a pride are related
All lactating females will allow any cub in their pride to nurse
Lions run at a rate of 50 mph, and sleep up to 20 hours a day
Tigers are lions’ closest relatives. Without their coats, lion and
tiger bodies are so similar that only experts can tell them apart.
Their roar can be heard up to five miles away.
Male lions can usually only hold on to a pride for 2-4 years before a
younger, stronger male or coalition of males throws him out and takes
Many people only think of the females as doing the hunting, but as
males spend much of their lives in search of a pride, they too must fend
for themselves and are quite capable of hunting.
Though grown-up lions have rarely been known to have spots, there is
one male in Masai mara that I have seen time and again that was born
with a huge black patch on the chest and inner front left leg. I have
watched him from birth till he was kicked out of the pride with his
brothers. Definitely he left the vicinity and only hears about his where
a bouts from time to time.
Lions are the only sexually dimorphic members of the cat family.
Male lions are the only members of the cat family to have a mane.
They are the only felines with tufts at the ends of their tails.
Female lions (lioness) reach two thirds of their adult size by the time they are 2 years old.
Males begin to really grow between 3 and 3 1/2 years and by 4 will be almost their adult size and weight
Both males and females continue to grow until they are 6 years old, primarily becoming more massive
Lions inhabit a wide range of habitats, from open plains to thick brush and dry thorn forest.
Lions eat primarily large animals, such as zebra and wildebeest,
weighing from 100 to 1,000 pounds. In times of shortage, they also catch
and eat a variety of smaller animals from rodents to reptiles. Lions
steal kills from hyenas, leopards, and other predators, but may also
lose their catches to hyena groups. Lions may also feed on domestic
livestock, especially in areas near villages.
Female lions usually give birth to a litter every two years. Females
are receptive to mates for a few days several times a year, unless they
are pregnant or nursing. Mating spurs ovulation. Females give birth to
one to five cubs after a gestation of about three and a half months.
Cubs nurse for six months, but start eating meat at three months. Due to
varied dangers, including starvation during times of food shortage and
attacks by male lions taking over prides, up to 80 percent of lion cubs
die within their first two years of life.
Zoo lions may live up to 25 years, while wild lions live about 15 years.
Lions live in groups called prides, which may include from several to
40 individuals. Pride mates associate in sub-groups within the pride.
Female pride mates are related to each other. Although both males and
females defend the pride’s territory, the larger males take on most
defense duties, marking territory with roars and scent marks (urine).
Females do most of the hunting.
Several females stalk prey from different angles to within 100 feet
before attacking the targeted animal. Females stay in their mothers’
prides for life, unless food scarcity forces them out. Young males are
driven from their prides when they grow large enough to compete with the
Young males join in coalitions, usually with brothers and cousins,
and search for a pride to take over. Males entering a new pride will
kill all cubs that cannot run from them. In India, female and male lions
live apart, joining only to mate.
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