About Lion Facts
Let’s share some basic lion facts. Lions are traditionally known as the “king of the jungle.” They possess both strength and beauty. The lions are the second largest cat of the world. Unlike other cats, lions are very social animals. Lions are dwarfed slightly by tigers, which are closely related and have similar body type.
Subspecies of lion
Lions once roamed Africa, Asia and Europe. But now they are only found in two areas of the world and are classified into two subspecies:
- Asiatic lions
- African lions
Asiatic lions live in India’s Gir Forest while African lions live in central and southern Africa. Though they look similar, these two subspecies are very different in size, habitat, diet and more.
Size of Lion
Asiatic lions tend to be much bigger, according to the World Wildlife Federation (WWF). They weigh 300 to 500 lbs. (120 to 226 kg) and are 6.56 to 9.18 feet (200 to 280 cm) long. Their tails measure 23.62 to 35.43 inches (60 to 90 cm).
The African lion is 4.5 to 6.5 feet (1.4 to 2 meters) long from its head to its rump. Its tail measures from 26.25 to 39.5 inches (67 to 100 centimeters) long. African lions typically weigh 265 to 420 lbs. (120 to 191 kilograms).
Characteristics of Lion
Male lions are generally larger than females. They also have a distinctive mane of hair around their heads. The mane’s function is to make the male look more impressive to females and more intimidating to other males. The mane also protects the male’s neck during fights over territory or mating rights.
Diet of Lion
Lions consume a wide variety of prey, from wildebeest, impala, zebra, giraffe, buffalo and wild hogs to sometimes rhinos and hippos. They will also feed on smaller animals such as hares, birds and reptiles. Lions are also known to attack elephants when food is scarce.
Habitat and Behavior of Lion
Lions are very social cats and live in groups called prides of around 30 lions. A pride consists of up to 3 males, a dozen females and their young. The size of the pride generally depends on the availability of food and water. When sources are scarce, the pride becomes smaller.
Lions within a pride are often affectionate and, when resting, seem to enjoy good fellowship with lots of touching, head rubbing, licking and purring. The males are territorial, and will roar and use scent markings to establish their domains.
Females do almost all of the hunting. They are mainly nocturnal and work in teams to stalk and ambush prey.
Lions inhabit grassy plains, savannas, open woodlands and scrub country. These landscapes allow the hunters to creep stealthily through vegetation and leap upon their unsuspecting prey.
African lions are considered vulnerable to extinction. They are threatened by loss and fragmentation of habitat. They are also killed by the humans in bravery, as hunting trophies, or medicinal power etc.
Asiatic lions are in a much more perilous position as human encroachment has reduced their habitat. The IUCN lists them as endangered and says only about 350 of them exist. This group includes only about 175 mature individuals.
Other Lion Facts
- Females are the main hunters of the pride. They form hunting parties to round up the fast animals found in their habitat.
- According to the WWF, lions can run up to 50 mph (80 kph) for short distances and leap as far as 36 feet (11 m).
- Male African lions that are trying to take over a pride will kill all of the cubs to avoid competition.
- To kill their prey, lions use their powerful jaws to snap the prey’s neck or to strangle it to death.
- Lions also go toe-to-toe with animals much larger than themselves.
- Lions can kill animals that weigh up to 1,000 lbs.