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Although the population of lions is declining, they are not currently listed as endangered or threatened. (The Asiatic lion is endangered.)
Renowned for their majesty and nicknamed the King of the Jungle, lions possess both beauty and strength. Males are distinguishable by their manes which protect them while fighting. Lions vary in color but are typically a light, yellowish-brown.
Males stand at a shoulder height of about 4 feet and reach about 5 ½ to 8 feet in length. Their tails average a length of 3 to 3 ½ feet, and they can weigh as much as 330 to 550 pounds. Females are smaller than males.
Since the early 1950s, the lion population in Africa has been reduced by half. Today fewer than 21,000 remain in all of Africa.
15 years in the wild, 24 years in captivity.
The lion is found throughout the south Sahara desert and in parts of southern and eastern Africa.
The African lion inhabits grassy plains, savannahs, open woodlands and scrub country.
Lions feed upon a wide array of animals, including wildebeest, impala, zebra, giraffe, buffalo and wild hogs. They will also feed on smaller animals such as hares, birds and reptiles.
The only social member of the cat (Felidae) family, lions live in large groups called "prides," consisting of about 15 lions. Related females and their young make up the majority of the pride. A single male, or sometimes a small group of two to three males, will join a pride for an indefinite period, usually about three years or until another group of males takes over. Females do almost all of the hunting. They are mainly nocturnal and work in teams to stalk and ambush prey. A lion can run for short distances at 50 miles per hour and leap as far as 36 feet. They are also territorial, males roar and use scent markings to establish their domain.
A female gives birth to litters averaging three to four cubs. If the entire litter dies, she will mate again within a few days. They begin hunting at 11 months and remain with their mother for at least two years.
Loss of habitat to population growth and agricultural expansion as well as hunting and poisoning by livestock ranchers.
Latest page update: made by Animal-Planet
, Jul 9 2007, 3:49 PM EDT
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