Panthera leo - The Lion

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.

Did you know? Male lions are the only members of the feline family which boast a mane.

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.

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.

Distribution

Lions occur naturally in the Kruger National Park and the game reserves and parks surrounding it, as well as in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the Kalahari, and in Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park in KwaZulu-Natal.

But, they can be found in protected private and provincial reserves all over the country. These include Addo National Elephant Park in the Eastern Cape, Sanbona Wildlife Reserve and Aquila Private Game Reserve (which are both near Cape Town in the Western Cape).

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.

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.

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

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Where to see Lion in their natural habitat?

Want to see lion in their natural habitat? In South Africa, find lion in these reserves and parks...

Conservation Status
Lion
Vulnerable
South Africa's Big 5

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