The lion, although the most famous of the cat family, is least
like any of the other cats. Other cats live alone, the lion lives in a pride.
Other cats are solitary hunters; the lion hunts in a group. It is more like a
canine than a feline in this respect. The male and females look very different
in appearance, with the large mane of the male very clearly distinguishing him
from the female; again unlike other male and female felines who's appearances are
very similar. One other difference between the lion and all other felines is the
tuft of hair at the tip of its tail, as no other member of the cat family has
A typical pride consists of between five and ten adult females
with their cubs; who do most of the hunting, and several adult males; who defend
the pride. When the lionesses hunt they approach their prey (such as zebra or
antelope) by fanning out and slowly encircling them, then a break of cover to
make a final charge which can be up to 64km (40 miles) an hour. The kill is
effected by a blow from the lion's front leg to bring the animal down, it then
falls on it grabbing very firmly by the throat which quickly suffocates the
Although lions hunt co-operatively each attack is effected
without reference to their companions. This is a very effective way to hunt
because with attacks coming from different directions, the prey become confused,
and in their hesitation are soon caught. Even with this kind of hunting strategy
it is reckoned that lions only make a kill in one out of four hunts.
When the males are too old or sick to continue defending their
pride, new males will take over, killing all the existing cubs. The old or sick
males are forced to live out their remaining years as solitary creatures hunting
for much smaller prey. The lionesses will soon produce cubs that are fathered by
the new males.
Most of the world's lion population is situated in tropical
Africa. There is also quite a sizable population in captivity, as this species
is the easiest to breed in wildlife parks and zoos. Lions once populated most of
Europe, only in Greece did they survive the slaughter as they were still living
wild until around 2,000 years ago. The ancient Romans reduced the North African
or Barbary Lion to very small numbers for use in their arenas, any remaining
population were exterminated within the 1800's. The last lion to be seen in the
Middle East was recorded in 1941, and Asiatic lions are still surviving in very
It is to our shame that the 'King
of The Jungle' has been treated like this!
The lion population of Africa has fallen from 200,000
twenty years ago to an appalling 23,000 today.
Size: Length of Head and Body: 140-250 cm
(55-98 ½ in).
Tail: 70-105 cm (27 1/2-41 ½ in).
Weight: males -150-225 kg
(330-500 lb); females - 110-150 kg (243-330 lb).
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