AN OVERVIEW

The Lion was once one of the most widespread large land mammals on the planet, evolving out of East Africa the lion spread quickly throughout the continent to Europe, the Middle East and throughout Asia. The lion is the only cat species where both genders differ hugely this is known as 'sexual dimorphism'. The male lion with its huge mane of hair around it's neck has been long prized as one of the most iconic animals on the planet and revered throughout human history. After years of persecution over the past three thousand years lions have now been isolated to life just on the African continent with a tiny population still surviving at the top of Northern India in the Gir Forest. 

The African Lion population was estimated at 200,000 at the beginning of last century. Within 21 years (1993 - 2014) the population is said to have declined by 42% leaving an estimated 23,000 lions. The African lion is now extinct in all but 27 African Countries and are split in isolated populations throughout the continent with only 5 Countries known to hold more than one thousand individuals. These are:

  • Botswana

  • Zimbabwe

  • Kenya

  • Tanzania

  • South Africa

The West African Lion (pictured bottom right) is now listed as critically endangered with an estimated population of 400 wild lions with less than 250 mature individuals. 

The Asiatic Lion (pictured top left) is also listed as critically endangered. However when compared to the West African Lion which is still depleting in number the Asiatic Lion is slowly rising and growing out of its historic range in the Gir Forest. In appearance they are greyer and slightly smaller than the African Lion pictured in the center.

The Lion

Males reach sexual maturity at around two years old however they are not fully grown in size until about four. Their manes can take about five years to mature fully in length and colour. The manes will start to grow and appear blonde in colour, as the years progress they will darken and will be fully developed by their fifth year. Extensiveness and darkness can differ between individuals and dominance status. Male lions are a testament to their power and strength and are therefore not known for ambush hunting. They are however known for their brute strength and male lion coalitions have been known when working together to take down adult hippo. Their manes allow them protection in fighting, these are animals evolved to fight. Because of the constant competition amongst male lion coalitions, the lifespan of a male lion is considerably lower when compared to the females and can be anywhere between 5 - 10. Many young lions will fail to reach full maturity as they are evicted by older males from their birth pride and are possibly killed in the process. All in all the male lion is most probably one of the most iconic animals to have an impact on human culture and society.

                        150-225 kg (330-496 lb)

                                                                 1.7-2.5 m (66-98 in)

​                                                                 1.07 m (42 in) average

                                                                     8 - 12 years.

                                                           14 - 20 years.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

(S. Haas et al, 2005)

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The Lioness

Lionesses reach sexual maturity at around three years old. They are fully grown at three to four years old. Only the males carry the mane lionesses will stay at their beige colouring quite often with spots on the legs from their cub hood. Lionesses use their sleek and slender build to become expert hunters in the wild usually hunting in groups. Despite the lionesses being considerably smaller than their male counterparts they make up for it in their ability to work together. Even though they are smaller than female tigers because they cooperate they can take down prey that are a lot larger. Lionesses can kill wildebeest alone and when they hunt together they are capable of taking down Cape Buffalo, young giraffe and even young elephant. While it is the males that patrol the territory keeping intruders at bay, the lionesses are still incredibly protective of their pride area and will not tolerate any other lionesses from other family groups on their land. Within the group they will help each other and sick or old individuals may have to wait, but they will normally be allowed to feed on large carcasses. No other big cat have this privilege and because of this their lifespan is considerably higher than that of the males, reaching anywhere between 8 - 14.

               120-182 kg (264-401 lb)

                                                              1.4-1.75 m (55-96 in)

​                                                               0.9-1.05 m (34-41 in)

                                                                     10-14 years

                                                           15-22 years

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

(S. Haas et al, 2005)

Average Body Weight:                                                        

Average Body Length:                                                                  

​Average Height:                                                                       

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No other species of cat shows this amount of difference between the two genders, showing how each have evolved for very different purposes. The males for competition and comradeship and the females for cooperation and defence.

OUR MISSION:

"TO ENSURE THE SURVIVAL OF LIONS IN THE WILD FOR GENERATIONS TO COME"

Safina Lion Conservation Fund   Registered Charity 1172709