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Lion.. Panthera Leo

Updated on September 10, 2016

The lion is a big cat of the family Felidae. Lion's genus is Panthera. Lions today are found mainly in Africa and India. In Africa, lions have a variety of sub species and the term African Lion is used for all the species combined. Around 10000 years ago the number of lions was second only to humans. A lion is a mammal. Today lions are a vulnerable species and their numbers have gradually decreased over centuries due to habitat loss and excessive hunting.

The life span of a lion in the wild ranges from 12 to 14 years. In the wild due to frequent hunting, fighting and other factors cause them a lot of injuries. However in captivity they can live up to 20 years or more. Lions are social cats and their social group is called a pride. A pride usually consists of lionesses, their cubs and adult male lions. Lionesses initiate and completes most of the hunting. Ungulates becomes the major prey for lions. Lions are apex and keystone predators and are excellent scavengers.. Lions rarely attack humans. The day to day routine for lions generally consists of sleeping as lions mainly nocturnal or crepuscular.A male lion's face is called a mane and has grown hair. The mane is a recognized symbol which civilizations, emperors, celebrities, entities and countries display on their emblems and possessions.

Lions are classified into many subspecies. They are Barbary lion, Asiatic lion, West African lion, Masai lion, Congo lion, South West African lion, Transvaal lion, Ethiopian lion. Lion's fossils have been found of being as old as 500000 years. Physically tigers are the only felids larger and bulkier than lions. Lions colors can vary from yellow, red or brown. Female lions generally do not have manes and they are distinct from the males. Male lions weigh between 150 to 250 kg and lionesses weigh between 120 to 185 kg. Male's length is from 6 feet to 9 feet and female's length from 5 feet to 8 feet. Lions generally live in prides. However a second lifestyle of nomads is also present. In a pride, the members develop an area of influence called their territory. Pride members hone their skills and use them while hunting. Lioness are faster and more agile and hunt the prey for food. When a prey is killed it is usually eaten on the spot . However bigger prey are dragged to the pride area where each lion tries to gobble up as much eat as possible. Male lions defend their pride against intruders along with females. Lions heart is small and they are not sprinters like cheetah hence they catch their prey in short bursts. Lions can prey on any beats they find in the wild. They hunt wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, wild boar and deer. They are excellent scavengers as well. They also hunt baboons, young elephants, giraffes, cattle among other beasts.

Lions and spotted hyenas compete for carrion in their overlapping areas. At time hyena steals or feeds on lion's kill. However depending on the region, lions steal hyena's kills as well. Other than humans, Nile crocodile can singly threaten or attack a lion. Lions are typically not man eaters, however man-eaters have been reported from time to time. Lionesses gestation period is of 110 days. Lioness gives birth to litters numbering from one to four in a den separated from the pride. The lioness usually keeps the cub away from the pride for a period of two months. During this period the cubs are helpless and are dependent on their mother for milk. Male lions mature in approximately three years. Five year old lion can challenge an adult for domination in a pride. Due to injuries and harsh wild conditions, lions begin to grow old at the age of ten to fifteen. The same is true for lionesses as well. Lions communicate with each other by licking, gently playing by rubbing forehead and neck. When angry or trying to warm up they roar and these roars can be extreme in case of anger or in short bursts in case of warming up.

In order to conserve and save lions a lot of National wildlife parks are run by recognized associations or countries. Etosha National Park in Namibia, Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, Kruger National Park in South Africa, Samburu National Reserve and Buffalo Springs National Reserve in Kenya and Gir Forest National Park in India are few such places. In ancient societies lions were used in blood sports and for entertainment of public. Lion is symbol that is associated with wide cultural significance. In Egypt, pharaohs regarded lion as a symbol of royalty. In India deities and gods have lions as their mount. In Europe a lot of kingdoms use lions in their symbols to signify bravery and royalty. Football clubs, films studio houses and authors frequently use lion's symbol on their logo.


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