Renowned for their majesty, the lions are the second largest living species belonging to the Felidae family only after tigers. Being aptly titled as the ‘King of the Jungle’, a lion possesses both beauty and strength that draws attention of many. Lions do vary in colour but are typically blessed with yellow-brown skin and thick brown or black manes that not only adds to their beauty but also protects them during fights.
A Lion’s Habitat and Range
Lions were naturally found mostly all over the African continent but are now left only in the south Sahara desert and in parts of southern and eastern Africa. Apart from the African land, lions can also be traced all the way from Greece through the Middle East to northern Indian lands.
Lions mostly inhabit a territory of 100 square miles that consists of grassy plains, open woodlands or scrubs since these allow them to creep through the vegetation and leap upon their prey.
Major Categories Of Lions
Size and Characteristics
The African lion is about 1.4 to 2 meters long from its head to its rump with an additional length of 67 to 100 centimeters long tail and it weighs about 120 to 191 kilograms. While the Asiatic lions tend to be much bigger weighing about 120 to 226 kgs. These are 2 to 2.8 meters long from their head to rump and tails measuring 60 to 90 cm. Male lions are usually larger than females and have a mane around their heads to look impressive along with to protect their necks during fights.
A Lion’s Diet
As well known, lions are carnivorous mammals that feed on a variety of prey varying from zebra to giraffe to wildebeest, antelopes, impala, buffalo, wild hogs to even rhinos and hippos. Apart from these lions do not spare the smaller ones including hares, birds, sambhar, buffaloes, goats, nilgai, chital and reptiles as well. A lion can also attack an elephant in situations when the food is scarce.
Lions are found mating anytime around the year and do not have any such specific mating season. A 3 to 4 year old lion becomes ready to mate. Females undergo a gestation period of about 110 days and give birth to 3-4 cubs at a time.
The female lion gives birth to her young ones away from others and keep the cubs hidden for the first six weeks of their lives. When born the cubs are only around 1.5 kgs in weight and are fully dependent on their mother. Another interesting part about their reproduction cycle is that all females in a pride mate at the same time and after the first six weeks, all females together take care of the cubs in the pride.
Life of Baby Lions – Cubs
The young cubs are vulnerable to attack by species like hyenas, leopards and the black backed jackals and therefore are always taken care off. The cubs can begin hunting when they complete 11 months but have to stick to their mothers for at least two years.
Lions are Social Mammals
Apart from being the second largest living species from the Felidae family, lions also mark to be the only social members of the cat (Felidae) family. Lions live in large groups of about 15 members that are called as ‘prides’. Mostly a pride has a single male or may be 2-3 males while the other members include females and their young ones. Females tend to stay with the pride in which they are born while the male lions tend to wander off and create their own pride once they get old enough.
Other Interesting Facts
- A lion’s roar can be heard over five miles away.
- The largest lion was nearly 700 pounds h of nearly 11 feet.
- The oldest lion in records was 29 years old.
- Lions have almost five times better eye sight when compared to humans.
- Lions can go without drinking any water for four days and they can drink for as long as 20 minutes after eating their meal.
Lions are often found enjoying affectionate company within their pride while indulging into lots of touching, head rubbing, licking and purring. Females do almost all of the hunting by stalking and trapping the prey.