African lyon

Features

“King of the animals” is a well deserved title for this proud and powerful predator, a great feline fitted with sharp fangs and enormous claws to knock down big preys. A terrifying roar and the magnificent mane complete the picture.

Uniquely among felines, lions form closed and long-lasting social group. In the females these groups are called prides and are formed by 4 to 6 adults with their offspring. The adult males live alone or in coalitions. A coalition defends a large area against other male coalitions and holds the mating rights over the prides within, but this possession usually lasts from 2 to 3 years.

Habitat and distribution

Today it lives only in African hunting reserves. It the jungle of Gir, in India, there are around 300 individuals of the Asian subspecies. From semi desert zones to meadows and bushy areas.

Biology

An adult male needs to hunt 20 great mammals a year to feed himself. It is the females the ones who hunt and they do it in group, while the males defend the herd and the territory, which they mark out with the urine. The male is always the first to try the prey and takes the best bit.

The main preys they feed on in the wild are medium-sized mammals (zebras, antelopes, etc.).

Lions are polygamous. During the female’s estrus period she can mate with the male up to 20 times a day. After 110 days approximately she will have her cubs, form 1 to 4 each time.

The lion cubs are born with dark spots all over their body. As they grow these spots disappear.

Conservation status

The main threats are the indiscriminate hunting (principally the one carried out to protect humans and livestock) and prey depletion. The habitat loss is causing that the lion groups be small and isolated.

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