Lion {Panthera Leo}

Lions are the second largest members of the feline family and are 'social' cats

South Africa WildlifeThe Lion {Panthera Leo}

Lions are the second largest members of the feline family in the world. Lion are tan in colour and have a slightly white under-body, with a tuft of black hair at the end of their tails.

Most cat species live a fundamentally solitary existence, but the lion is an exception. It has developed a social system based on teamwork and a division of labour within the pride, and an extended but closed family unit centres around a group of related females. The average pride consists of about 15 individuals, including five to 10 females with their young and two or three territorial males that are usually brothers or pride mates.

Quick Facts

Size

Lion stand 48 inches high at the shoulder.
Adult male lion weigh about 416 pounds.
Female lions weigh 277 pounds.

Males

Male lions are typically 4 feet in height with a large mane of hair that begins to develop around age two that surrounds the neck. The mane can vary in colour from tawny/tan to black.

Females

Female lions are 44 inches in height, and have no mane around their neck. Cubs are born with a slightly spotted coat, that changes to their parents tawny coloration around three months of age. Female lions live longer than males, and Serengeti female lions can live up to age 18, whereas males typically live to age 12.

Habitat

Lions are found in savannahs, grasslands, dense bush and woodlands.

Diet - Carnivore

Lions are opportunists when it comes to feeding. They will scavenge from other predators that have killed an animal, or will hunt animals ranging in size from the large African buffalo to a small hare.

Socialisation

Lions are the only 'social' cats, whereby related female lions live together and form groups called 'prides'. Lion prides are family groups with all of the females related, mothers and daughters, sisters and cousins, etc.

A pride can range from three to 30 individuals, but tend to average about fifteen members, which include male and female lions plus a number of cubs. The number of lions in a pride will vary significantly based on the number of prey animals that live or migrate through the pride's territory.

Reproduction

Lion cubs are born after a gestation period of 110 days, with female lions giving birth in a den site, typically located in a rock outcrop or in dense vegetation. A female will on average give birth to three cubs that are between 2 to 4 pounds in weight.

Predators

  • Humans
!

Lion Conservation Status

  • Vulnerable

South Africa's Big Five

Did you know?

Lions have a matriarchal society - females hunt and feed the pride, and take care of the young; males protect the pride from would-be predators.

Male lions are the only members of the feline family which boast a mane.

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