Scientific name: Panthera leo
Conservation status: Vulnerable (Decreasing populations)
Lifespan: 10 – 14 years (Adult, In the wild)
Trophic level: Carnivorous
Mass: Adult Male: 190 kg, Adult Female: 130 kg
More About Lions:
Probably the most sought after member of Africa’s Big Five animals, lions are one of most recognizable animals around. Their trademark manes and resounding roars attract travelers from all over the world, though these social cats often receive little benefit.
Despite their popularity and fame, these cats are facing major threats to their existence; conservation travel to African communities to see lions in the wild can help make a major difference in efforts to protect them.
Lion Facts & Tidbits
- The lion is the only big cat that lives in a large group or ‘pride’, with as many as 40 individuals, primarily female and cubs.
- They can get their water from plants and prey and go as long as days without drinking.An adult lion’s roar can be heard up to five miles (eight kilometers) away.
- Females do almost all of the hunting.Ironically, though their nickname is “King of the Jungle”, one of the few habitats on the continent where they don’t live is the rain forest of Central Africa.
- They are the second largest cat after tigers.
- Female lions begin mating by four years old and will sometimes mate with multiple males. The female will generally leave the pride while having a litter and will move their dens to avoid being found by predators.
- The mother and her cubs will normally rejoin the pride after a couple of months. Lions live up to about 12 years in the wild.
Most live in Africa south of the Sahara Desert, though at one time they were spread across the Middle East, much of India, and southern Europe. Currently, a small population of Asian Lions live in the Gir Forest of India, and are the only wild lions outside of Africa.
They are now extinct from 26 countries that they used to inhabit and their range has decreased more than 80 percent.
IUCN Status: Vulnerable / Population Trend: Decreasing
Lion numbers have dropped an estimated 30 percent over the past twenty years, to less than a total of 30,000. Their top threat is conflicts with humans, especially when they hunt livestock, often resulting in the owners hunting them. Trophy hunting is a controversial but popular recreational activity in Africa.
Photo Credit: Johan Reineke, Dreamstime