Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Facts about the’ King of the Jungle’

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 lion.

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 over.

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.
Life Span
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 dominant males.
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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