are unique in that they are the only cats to live in groups (prides). They are
the largest member of the cat family and the largest of all the African
carnivores. They are are the top predator in any African ecosystem where they
Characteristics: Lions are Tawny in colour, varying from silvery
yellow to reddish brown with paler undersides (female belly yellowish to almost
white); yellow to black mane. Faint, leopard like spots are generally found on
the young which is sometimeskept into maturity.
Males have thick mane
around the head that extend down the chest between the forelegs and varies in
colour from blond to black, whereas females do not have manes
massive shoulders and strong forelimbs, long, sharp claws, and short, powerful
jaws. A Lions' roar can be heard by humans more than 8 km away.
of lions are generally composed of related females, whilst a typical prides
contains around 13 lions, large prides can contain as many as 40 lions, while
some prides will have a few as two members. A prides home range varies in size
from 20-400 km².
Lions are mainly nocturnal and are reputed to
sleep or rest for about 20 hours a day. You will often find them lying under a
shady bush, particularly after they've fed following a kill.
Feeding/drinking Habits: As carnivores, feeding
entirely on the flesh of other mammals, lions have 30 teeth, including large
piercing canines to grab and kill prey, scissorlike molars to slice into flesh,
and small incisors to scrape meat from bones. Much of their hunting is done at
night and in the very early dawn. When feeding on a large kill, a lion can eat
almost 36 kg of meat in one feeding and then not need to eat for several days.
On average, a lion needs to eat about 5 kg of meat daily.
Habitat: The lion is found throughout the
south Sahara desert and in parts of southern and eastern Africa. They are
generally seen on grassy plains, savannas, and dry woodlands but never seen in
heavily forested areas. The lion can be found in most of the National Parks and
Reserves in Africa.
Lifespan Males reach up to a shoulder height of 1.2meters and
weight between 150-250kgs, females are smaller and reach a shoulder height of
1.05m and weigh up between 120 -180 kgs. Lions live for 12-16 years in the wild
and 25 years in captivity.
Reproduction: A lioness has a gestation period of
about 110 days, after which she can gives birth to up to four cubs. Generally
she gives birth in a secluded areas away from the group and introduces the cubs
to the pride when they are about eight weeks old. Very often, several females
give birth at about the same time, and they share the duties of protecting and
nursing the cubs. Mothers nurse for up to 8 months, although they begin to take
cubs to eat at animal kills when they are as young as 3 months old. At about 11
months of age, cubs start learning to hunt with the pride. Females take care of
their young until they are about two, when the mother is ready to produce a new
Threats: Although the population of lions is declining, they are
not currently listed as endangered or threatened. Threats include hunting, loss
of habitat and human encroachment.
Lions (Worldlife Library) Brian
Bertram Accompanied by a number of color photographs, the text explores the
behavior and biology of lions and discusses how interaction with human
populations has affected them. Buy From (amazon.com) - USA(amazon.co.uk) - UK
The Nature of Lions - by Eric S.
Grace, Art Wolfe From how a lion's physical construction makes it one of
nature's greatest hunters, to the conditions that have made lions the only
truly social cats, all aspects of lions' biology and behavior are discussed in
The Nature of Lions. Buy From (amazon.com) - USA(amazon.co.uk) - UK
The Serengeti Lion : A Study of Predator-Prey
Relations - by George B. Schaller (Wildlife Behavior and Ecology
series) This is an important book, not just for its valuable information on
lions, but for its broad, open,and intelligent approach to problems that cut
across the fields of behavior, populations, ecology, wildlife
management,evolution, anthropology, and comparative biology Buy
From (amazon.com) - USA(amazon.co.uk) - UK