The African Lion, Description, Habitat, Behavior, Reproduction, Diet and Threats to the African Lion
Description of the African Lion
The lion is probably one of the most famous Felines along with the tiger. The male is distinguished by his abundant mane which has earned him being called the "king of animals". The body of the animal is long and stocky and rests on thick and powerful paws. The coat is quite short, usually sandy, buff, yellowish, or ochre in color. The underside is lighter, almost white in the female.
The head, wide, is decorated with round ears with a black reverse. In males, the mane is of a more sustained shade: dark brown, fawn, or black. A long, dark mane is a sign of good health and combat power. It would seem that the size of the mane closely depends on the nutrition and hormonal status of the feline. The tail ends with a long black brush. As in tigers, some specimens with leucism have a whitish coat.
Distribution of african Lion
The lion may be called the "king of the jungle," but it doesn't really exist in the tropical jungle. Instead, this cat prefers the grassy plains, savannas, and scrublands of sub-Saharan Africa. The Asiatic lion lives in Gir Forest National Park in India, but its range includes only savannah and shrubland areas.
Characteristics of african Lion
The lion is a muscular cat with an elongated body, large head and short legs. Size and appearance vary greatly between sexes. The male's most distinctive feature is his mane, which varies between individuals and populations. It may be entirely absent; may have fringes on face; or it can be full and shaggy, covering the back of the head, neck and shoulders, and continuing along the neck and chest to add fringes along the belly. In some lions, the mane and bangs are very dark, almost black, giving the cat a regal appearance.
Manes make men appear taller and can be used to intimidate rivals or impress potential partners. An adult male is 1.8 to 2.1 meters long, not including the 1 meter tail; It is about 1.2 meters tall at the shoulder and weighs between 170 and 230 kg (370 and 500 lb). The female or lioness is smaller, with a body length of 1.5 meters, a height at the withers of 0.9-1.1 meters and a weight of 120-180 kg. Lion fur is short, ranging in color from light yellow, orange-brown, or silver-grey to dark brown, with a tuft at the tip of the tail that is usually darker than the rest of the fur.
Species of Lions
However, many recent studies have emerged, which confirmed that the lions that live in western and central Africa are closely related to the Asian lions, more than their association with the lions that live in the southern and eastern parts of Africa.
Accordingly, in the year 2017, a group affiliated with the International Union for Conservation of Nature returned this classification, and then divided the lions into two new main sections, namely: the northern subspecies, which includes lions that are found in Asia and all of Central, West, and North Africa, and the southern subspecies, which includes lions that live in South and East Africa.
The first class, is the northern subspecies, which, as we mentioned earlier, are of two types:
The first type is called the Asian lion and is also called the Indian lion, as it was found for the first time in the state of Gujarat in India. This species of lions prefers to live in dry silver forests, savannahs, and also thorny forests. The Indian lion is one of the endangered species of lions ... the Asian lion Big and heavy weight:
He weighs between (160-190) kg
- While its height may reach about 110 cm
Its diet depends mainly on spotted deer.
The second type, which is the Senegalese lion, is considered the smallest species of lions present in the current period in sub-Saharan Africa. The Senegalese lion lives in West Africa, from the Central African Republic to Senegal, and it is also one of the endangered lions. As for the nature of its diet, it is unknown.
This is what concerns the first section or the first subspecies of lions. Now we will get to know together the second section, which is the southern subspecies lions
The Masai lion is a type of lion that lives throughout eastern Africa
Its length is from 2 to 5 meters
Its weight ranges from 145 to 205 kg
The Masai lions prefer to live in lowlands and wetlands, and they also live in eastern and northern Kenya
Congo lion This lion lives in the Congo River basin in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and is one of the endangered lions.
The Katanga lion lives in southwestern Africa. It is also found in Angola, western Zambia, Namibia and Zimbabwe, and even in northern Botswana. The Katanga lion is distinguished by its light color compared to the rest of the lions. It is also distinguished by its large size, its length may reach 3 meters, and its weight may reach 240 kg. slug.
The Transvaal Lion or the Kalahari Lion This type of lions was found in South Africa in the Kalahari region, and also in Kruger Park, and the Transvaal lion lives especially in savannahs, pastures and semi-arid areas.
Its weight may reach 200 kg
With a length of up to 6 meters
Its diet includes warthogs, African buffalo, zebra, and even giraffes and ostriches in South Africa along with the southern white rhino.
The Ethiopian lion: The Ethiopian lion is characterized by its very dark mane, and its small size compared to the rest of the lions. It was previously believed that it was a subspecies of the East African lion, but the genetic analyzes that were conducted on it proved that it is an independent subspecies.
Lions, of course, are among the most endangered animals due to their permanent hunting, environmental disturbances, and loss of their habitats, which led to the extinction of some breeds previously, most notably
Barbary lion: It is also called the Nubian lion and the Atlas lion. This breed spread in Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria, which became extinct due to indiscriminate hunting. The last Atlas lion was hunted in 1920 in Morocco. It is considered a calcified lion of large lions, with a length of 3 meters and a weight of more than 200 kg
The American lion: Which is characterized by its large size, and some males weigh up to 454 kg
The Lion of the Cape of Good Hope: Which became extinct at the end of the nineteenth century, and which some environmentalists believe should not be classified as a separate breed, but it is just a branch of the Transvaal lions.
European lion: of which the males weigh up to 181 kg.
Cave Lion: It was discovered in the caves of Europe and it is believed that he was frequenting them looking for bears as food for him, the males weighing about 363 kg.
Habitat of the African Lion
In historical times, the lion evolved on the largest territory ever given to a Feline. He lived on almost the entire African continent from the Atlas Mountains to the Cape Province, from Southern Europe, the Near and Middle East, to India. Nowadays, it is found only in sub-Saharan Africa and in the Gir Reserve, in the state of Gujarat in India.
The feline mainly frequents savannahs (Kenya, Tanzania...), but also occupies dry forests and semi-arid areas. It was thought that it could not survive in deserts, but there is a population in that Namib. It is completely absent in tropical forest areas.
The behavior of the African Lion
Unlike other wild animals that are solitary outside the breeding periods, the lion lives in groups constituting permanent social units. These bands consist of a dominant male, several related females, and young males. Fawns communicate with each other with the help of sounds that range from purring to roaring and with the help of bodily attitudes that determine mood, from affection to anger.
The lion devotes most of his time to inactivity and hunts only in the dark or cool morning hours. The vast majority of catches are carried out by lionesses. Indeed, the males being heavier and less fast, turn out to be less effective. Stalking is practiced on the lookout when a feline hunts alone, and by encirclement when they act in groups.
The male participates only for the most imposing prey: buffaloes, and pre-adult elephants... Usually, their role is to ensure the protection of the troop from other lions. The muscular power of the Fauvesis impressive. To catch up with its prey, a lioness is able to make leaps of almost 12 meters in length and 4 meters in height.
Reproduction of the African Lion
There is no breeding season to speak of. The male ensures the fecundity of a female by using his vomeronasal organ placed on the palate, under the lower surface of the nose which allows him to spot pheromones. To do this, he raises his upper lips and opens his mouth.
This behavior is called flehmen. Since the estrus of the female lasts only four days, the animals sometimes mate up to fifty times a day. Only the dominant male can reproduce. After a gestation of about four months, the lioness gives birth to one to four cubs that are born blind.
For the first six weeks, they are breastfed by their mother who keeps them sheltered in a cache, away from the other members of the group. The danger is constant because the cubs can be exposed to hyena attacks when the mother is away hunting. A little later, the lioness brings her cubs to the group, which usually accepts them without difficulties.
From that moment on, the lion cubs no longer suckle not only their own mother but also other females. Their education is therefore the responsibility of the entire group. The young are weaned after six months and stay with their mother for another two years. Animals reach sexual maturity between the ages of three and four.
The diet of the African Lion
The lion's diet is basically meat. Its main prey is large cows (Elands, Kobe, wildebeest, bubalis, Kudus...), But he also hunts Buffaloes, zebras, giraffes, pigs, sometimes elephants, hippos, and even crocodiles. During seasonal migrations of large mammals, when the usual prey is exhausted, Cats return to smaller and more difficult-to-capture herbivores: Impala, Damalis, deer, and other dwarf antelopes. On its territory, the lion competes with other predators such as the spotted hyena.
Their relationships are unique in their complexity and intensity. But competition is also present with the cheetah (with whom it competes with Prey and on which it practices strong predation by killing young people), the tiger, and even the Nile crocodile.
Diseases affecting african Lions
Diseases can be classified as endemic or epidemic based on their persistence in a population. Although lion populations can experience high short-term mortality from epidemic viruses, endemic viruses can consistently be widespread and considered to be of low pathogenicity.
The risk of an epidemic for animals living in small and fragmented populations is increasing dramatically as contact with human and domestic animal populations becomes more frequent and microclimate and landscape ecology change. The tools to predict, prevent and respond to these risks are not well established in conservation management.
Threats of the African Lion
The main reasons for the decline of lions are the hunting practiced against them since ancient times, the reduction of their traditional habitat turned into crops, and the scarcity of games. The dispersion of areas where lions develop also leads to a loss of genetic diversity.
Over the past twenty years, the number of employees has decreased by 30-50%. Only 30,000 individuals remain at large and in Africa, cats have disappeared in more than 80% of their former territories (Africa, southern Europe, Near, and the Middle East). They are classified only in Annex II of the convention on international trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which regulates international trade in wild animals.
A male lion can eat about a quarter of his body weight (up to about 140 pounds or 63 kilograms) in a single meal.
A lion's roar can be heard up to 3 miles away.
A lioness can run up to 53 kilometers per hour.
A lioness typically suffocates her prey by closing her jaws over her nose and mouth.
Scientists know more about lions than any other cat.
Some male lions lack a conspicuous mane, which is most commonly seen in East Africa.
Lions can often survive extremely dry conditions by eating tsama melons for moisture in the Kalahari Desert.
Male lions are much larger than females and have long manes, or hair, covering their heads and necks and reaching down to their bellies. Lion cubs are born with light patches on their fur. They disappear when they grow up and help camouflage or hide when they are young.
The name of a group of lions is "pride".