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African Lion Info





ORDER:Carnivora
FAMILY:Felidae
GENUS:Panthera
SPECIES:Leo

Body Lenght: Male: 170-190 cm + tail, Female: 140-175 cm + tail
Height: Male:95-110 cm, Female: 85 cm
Weight:Male: 150-250 kg, Female: 120-180 kg Cubs at Birth weight in around 1,150 - 1,785 grames
Diet:Antelopes, Zebras and other hoofed animals
Sexual maturity: 3-4 years
Mating Season: Not seasonal
Pregnancy:105-112 days
Number of cubs:2-4 (sometimes up to 6)
Lenght of life:12-15 years(up to 25 in captivity)
Number in the wild:23,000
Name in Spanish:Leon
Name in Swedish:Lejon
Name in German:Löwe
Name in Italian:Leone
Name in Swahili:Simba

DESCRIPTION

Adult lions usually have a plain unspotted coat, light brown to dark ochre in color. Cubs are marked with spots which sometimes persist on the legs and belly until they are fully grown. Male lions have a brown mane, which tends to grow darker and fuller as the animal ages. The tail has a black tuft at the end. "White" lions occasionally occur in the Transvaal region of southern Africa, but these are not true albinos.

RANGE AND HABITAT

Thousands of years ago, lions were common throughout southern Europe, southern Asia, eastern and central India and over the whole of the African continent. Today, with the exception of some 200 to 350 highly protected animals in the Gir National Park of India, the only naturally-occuring lions are found in Africa. (But even in Africa lions have been wiped out in the north; the last Numidian male was shot as a trophy in the 1930s.) Lions do not live in heavy forests and jungles and they do not inhabit desert areas due to a scarcity of game.

Unlike most members of the cat family,lions are social animals that live in prides (family groups) of 20 - 30 individuals. Some prides include a single male, while others have as many as four.Where there is more than one male, the males are most likely litter mates.Males are strongly territorial and will challenge intruders, and lionesses will fight of other females. Males will offen fight untill one lion is killed. The winner takes over dominance of the territory, and of the pride. After several seasons with a pride, the male becomes restless and may be disinterested in resisting a challenge from a rival male.If he loses he will search for another pride to dominate.Old or injured lions who have escaped death after fighting, but have lost thier territory, offen die trying to fend for themselves.

SUBSPECIES

1. P. l. persica, known as the Asiatic lion or South Asian, Persian, or Indian lion, once was widespread from Turkey, across Southwest Asia, to India and Pakistan, now 523 exist in and near the Gir Forest of India. Genetic evidence suggests its ancestors split from the ancestors of sub-Saharan African lions between 203 and 74 thousand years ago.

2. P. l. leo, known as the Barbary lion, originally ranged from Morocco to Egypt. It is extinct in the wild due to excessive hunting, as the last wild Barbary lion was killed in Morocco in 1942.This was one of the largest of the lion subspecies,with reported lengths of 3.0–3.3 m (9.8–10.8 ft) and weights of more than 200 kg (440 lb) for males. It appears to be more closely related to the Asiatic rather than sub-Saharan lions. A number of animals in captivity are likely to be Barbary lions,particularly the 90 animals descended from the Moroccan Royal collection at Rabat Zoo.

3. P. l. senegalensis, known as the West African lion, is found in western Africa, from Senegal to the Central African Republic.

4. P. l. azandica, known as the northeast Congo Lion, is found in the northeastern parts of the Congo.

5. P. l. nubica, known as the East African or Masai lion is found in East Africa, from Ethiopia and Kenya to Tanzania and Mozambique; a local population is known as the Tsavo lion.

6. P. l. bleyenberghi, known as the southwest African or Katanga lion, is found in southwestern Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Angola, Katanga (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

7. P. l. krugeri, known as the southeast African or Transvaal lion, is found in the Transvaal region of southeastern Africa, including Kruger National Park.

8. P. l. melanochaita, known as the Cape lion, became extinct in the wild around 1860. Results of mitochondrial DNA research do not support its status as a distinct subspecies. The Cape lion probably was only the southernmost population of the extant P. l. krugeri.

9. A newly discerned lion subspecies could exist in captivity in Ethiopia's capital city of Addis Ababa. Researchers compared the microsatellite variations over ten loci of fifteen lions in captivity with those of six different wild lion populations. They determined that these lions are genetically unique and presumably that "their wild source population is similarly unique." These lions—with males that have a distinctly dark and luxuriant mane seem to define a new subspecies perhaps native only to Ethiopia. These lions were part of a collection of the late Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia.

DIET

Lions feed on a variety of large and medium-size prey. They prefer wildebeast (or gnu) to all others when the annual migration brings the vast herds through the pride's range. Otherwise they eat buffalo, zebra, antelope, giraffe, and warthogs. They also steal kills from other predators.

LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE
BREEDING

A lioness has cubs approximately every 2 years. Shortly before giving birth,she choose a suitable site for her lair,which must be well hidden, safe from potenial predators, sheltered, and close to water.

The cubs are born blind and have spotted coats. For the first 2 months,they drink only their mother`s mill.AT 6 weeks, they begin to accompany their mother to the kill,acquiring a taste for meat and learning how to hunt. By 15 months, the cubs can hunt small pray. When the cub reaches about 2 years of age,their mother is pregnant again and they must leave her. Some young females may be allowed to remain in the pride, but all the male cubs are driven out by the dominant male.

Life Stages

0-1 year

  • Walking by 10 days.
  • Remain hidden until mobile - around 4-6 weeks.
  • Mother and cubs rejoin pride around 6-8 weeks - cubs raised communally.
  • First set of milk teeth erupt around 3 weeks, canines at 4 weeks.
  • Milk is main diet until solid food at around 2 months,
  • Cubs will suckle from any lactating female,But females try to give milk primarily to their own young.
  • Eyes change from gray-blue to amber at 2-3 months.
  • 3-5 months acquire adult coat.
  • Tail tuft, absent at birth develops between 5-7 months.
  • Males may have slight throat ruff at 6 months, stockier than females.
  • Starvation / predation / infanticide / abandonment common causes of death.
  • Weaning: Mothers have no milk by time cubs are 7 months but suckling may.
  • continue from other lactating females - up to 12 months.

    Large Cubs 1-2 years

  • Cubs are leopard size - 45kg.
  • Deciduous canines replaced with permanent canines at 13.5-15 months.
  • Mane in males consists of crest on head and nape with tufts on cheeks.

    Subadults 2-4 years

  • By the time they are 2 years of age lionesses are competent hunters.
  • Females slender, with short muzzle, inconspicuous nipples, taut abdomen Males undergo a 6 month growth spurt around 3.5 years. Light blond beginning of mane.
  • Males leave birth pride around 3.5 years.
  • Puberty Both males and females reach sexual maturity around 24 months. Males may not produce sperm until 30 months. In the wild, they may not have an opportunity to reproduce until the age of 5.

    Young Adults 4-6 years

  • Most females have first litter around age 4.
  • Most males leave the pride by the age of 4.
  • Mane clearly present. Brownish with rust, yellow and black hairs.
  • Both males and females continue to grow until age 6.

    Prime

  • Females can breed until they are 15 years old but reproduction begins to decline at about 11 years.
  • Males as old as 16 can produce viable sperm, but reproduction probably ceases after their pride tenure is lost.

    Lions are the only cats that live in large family groups. Each pride differs in size and formation, but a typical pride consists of two males and seven females and a variable number of cubs. Females are usually sisters and/or cousins that have grown up together. When the pride hunts as a group they employ an ambush that forces large prey into the waiting paws of the males. Females have the speed but lack the body weight to knock down large "family size" prey such as the wildebeast. Despite their tremendous power and adaptive efficiency, lions are more likely to fail than succeed in their attempts to kill. Subadult males are driven out at 2-1/2 to 3 years of age and may go in a group with other males. Females mature in about two years, males a few years later. All big cats are induced ovulators, i.e. release of the ovum is brought about by the act of mating, which explains the spitting, hitting, and roaring contest during courtship. The period of gestation for the lioness is between 105 and 118 days and usually three or four cubs will be born. Only one in five will survive the first year. When game is scarce the dominance hierarchy based on size and age quickly becomes apparent. The youngest die first. Life span in the wild is 12-15 years, in captivity 25 years.

    SPECIAL ADAPTATIONS

    Backward-curved horny papillae cover the upper surface of the tongue; these are useful both in holding onto meat and removing parasites during grooming. The roar of a lion can be heard up to five miles away and can be most intimidating up close. Territorial roaring is usually heard an hour after sunset. When separated they roar to let each other know where they are; females often call their cubs by roaring. The mature male's mane not only makes him appear larger but protects his throat from his mortal enemies-other marauding lions and the hyenas after his cubs or kill.

    Lions are the only big cat that have such a distinct difference between the male and female, other than size. The mane protects the lion's necks from other lion's claws during territory fights with other males.

    INTERPRETIVE INFORMATION

    A lion is a digitigrade, or toe walker; that is his heel doesn't touch the ground. His loud roar is made possible by the cartilage in his throat having ossified into bone (referred to as the Hyoid structure). This is true of all the big cat or "roaring" species. The smaller cats with the softer throat structure can only meow.

    Pride members usually rub their cheeks together when they meet as a greeting. They have 6 types of vocalizations, which include growls, roars, chuffs(a friendly noise) and grunts.


    Lions Paw Print




    STATUS IN WILD

    As a result of widespread persecution, cats in the wild have become one of the most threataened major groups of land animals. Nevertheless, the African lion numbered perhaps 200,000 individuals in 1991.But with Asiatic Lions, The species is critcally endangered, with just 500 left in the world today.Asiatic Lions were on the brink of extinction in 1913, Local ruler estimated 24 left in Gir Forest.Today 200 - 350 Lions Prowl these Woods.

    They are generally protected even through some 150 humans have been mauled in the Gir National Park alone. Conversely in the Skeleton Coast Park in West Africa's Namibia the lions are all gone. Some were killed outside park boundaries by livestock herdsmen; others were forced to leave by drought.


    Lion Population Table

    -AFRICAN LION-
  • Western Africa 968 - 1,358
  • Central Africa 2,092 - 3,538
  • Eastern Africa 11,268 - 18,811
  • Southern Africa 14,526 - 23,425
    TOTALS (Sub-Saharan Africa) 28,854 - 47,132

  • -ASIATIC LION-
  • India (Gir National Forest) 200 - 350


  • HOW LIONS HUNT

    Lions have to kill to live. They prefer large prey—zebra, various kinds of antelope, buffalo, and warthog. But they will also eat fish, turtles, guinea fowl—anything they can catch. They eat animals that have died from disease, and even take prey from cheetahs or hyenas.The lion lives a life of feast or famine. It may not be able to catch an animal for perhaps a week. But it usually catches something to eat every three or four days. Then the lion stuffs itself. A male lion can eat 75 pounds (34 kilograms) of meat in one meal. After killing an animal, the lion often drags it to a shady spot. One lion can drag a 600-pound (270-kilogram) zebra, something that six people would find difficult to do. All members of the pride eat together, with much growling and snarling as each animal tries to get the "lion's share" of the meat.Catching a large animal is not easy for the lion. Most of its prey can run faster than the lion, which has a top speed of about 35 miles (56 kilometers) per hour. A lion normally must surprise its victims by stalking. After locating the prey, the lion moves slowly toward it, its body close to the ground. When it is about 50 feet (15 meters) away, it rushes forward, grabs the rump, side, or head of the animal, and pulls it to the ground. Then it usually seizes the prey's throat in its mouth and strangles it.Lions often hunt at night because they can surprise their prey more easily in the dark. Nature has equipped the lion well for this task. Its gold-colored eyes can see in the dark, and the lion has excellent senses of hearing and smell. Sometimes several lions hunt together. While several hide, others circle the prey and chase it toward the waiting lions that are crouched in the high grass. The male lions in the pride ordinarily let the lionesses do the hunting. But they kill for themselves when they find prey. Cubs learn to hunt by watching the adults.

    DID YOU KNOW

  • Lions kill only when hungry. Their prey can usually sence if lions are out to kill and,if lions are not,will often ignore lions.

  • Lions mane makes his body appear larger and more impressive than really is, Which helps to attract females at mating time and frightens off rival males.

  • Male lions take no intrest in the rearing of young and, on occasion , may even try to kill them

  • A lions territory is determined by the size of the pride and the avaliability of pray and water.

  • Lionesses are ferocious when defending their cubs.Several will act together to chase off a predator or an aggressive male lion.






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