Information On Lions


Lion Information

Types of lions include-African lions, Asiatic lion, American Lions, Mountain Lion, Cave lion, Leopard, White lions are rare.

Lions are the only cats that live in permanent groups.

The golden lions, each about six feet long, greet each other by rubbing up against each other. They keep in touch with roars, growls, grunts, meows and moans.

Earliest fossils of lion-like ancestors date from 1.5 million years ago. Once there lived even bigger lions on earth, the American Lion (Panthera leo atrox) in America and the cave lion (Panthera leo spelaea) in Eurasia.


A tawny body. White lions have been recorded (although not true albinos) while the black form - as seen in leopards and jaguars for example - has never been observed. Unlike the slitted pupil in the eyes of domestic cats, lions have a round pupil like humans. Lions are the only cats to have tufted tails and male lions the only cat to have a mane.

Trophy hunting often allowed outside game reserves to bring in revenue - in South Africa, another cause for declining numbers.

The tiger is currently being poached, almost to extinction, to provide bones and other body parts for use in Traditional Chinese Medicine


Lions are the only members of the cat family to live in prides. This is made up of a group of females, all related to each other, and their cubs. There is no dominant female. The pride is led by a single dominant male or a coalition of males. The males are highly social and will hunt and scavenge together, whether they are in charge of a pride, or whether they are a group of young males living alone. If the males are living and working together as a pair they tend to be unrelated; large groups tend to be related to each other. The roles of the males and females are quite different. Females tend to do all the hunting for the group while males expend a great deal of energy protecting their pride from outside males. Sometimes a male will only be in charge of a pride for two years. However, groups of males are more successful and can remain in control for four-five years.


There is some disagreement about why lions live in prides. There are advantages and disadvantages. Although it is easier for lions to bring down their large prey animals when hunting as a group, this may not result in the individuals getting more food than when hunting alone - there is usually a lot of squabbling and fighting going on at the kill, and it also has to be shared with members in the pride who do not hunt. Social living can be a benefit when defending and looking after the young. Females in the pride will often give birth all at the same time - another feature unique to lions.. The young can then be reared communally, with the cubs suckling from any of the females in milk. Lions do seem to get a lot of pleasure from each other's company, when not under pressure, and are very affectionate and playful with each other.

Historically, the Born Free Foundation is associated with lions, perhaps more than any other species. The BFF's founders, Virginia McKenna and the late Bill Travers, starred in the film 'Born Free' as the real-life Joy and George Adamson who returned the orphaned lioness 'Elsa' to the wild.


Fluid requirements - although lions drink regularly when water is available they are capable of getting the necessary moisture from their prey - and even from plants. Lions in the Kalahari desert have been seen eating tsama melons.

GESTATION - 110 days-OFFSPRING - generally 2 - 3 cubs.

LONGEVITY - In the wild males generally live for 12-16 years, females 1-5-16 years. In captivity lions can live up to 25-30 years.

For those of us inspired by George Adamson's work with wild lions in Kenya the name 'Kora' has a special resonance. It was where George's lion camp, "Kampi-ya-Simba", was based. Since his murder in 1989, the camp and its surroundings have fallen into disrepair.


The lion formerly ranged from northern Africa through southwest Asia, west into Europe and east into India. However, it became extinct in Europe about 2,000 years ago; and there is only a relict population of about 350 animals left in the Gir Forest in India. The lion has also declined in Africa in the last 150 years. Today it is estimated there are between 30,000 - 100,000 lions, mainly in east and southern Africa; in west Africa numbers have greatly declined.


In African lions the mane is very thick and usually covers the ears (unlike the mane of the Asiatic lion, where the ears can be seen). It is thought that the heavy mane protects males when they are fighting. It can also emphasise his powerful size and show off the good state of his health to opposing males without wasting energy in supporting an increased body size. Mane development is influenced by testosterone and, in captivity, castrated male lions will lose their mane.

The Future of the African Lion

Throughout most of Africa, lions are becoming increasingly rare outside protected areas. Cattle culture is widespread and lions are seen as a threat to stock and are shot or poisoned. As scavengers, lions will also pick up poisoned meat meant for other harmful predators.



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