The lion is among the biggest cats in the world, with males standing taller as well as heavier than females, and sporting a long mane of hair on their faces (in fact, it’s the only instance of feline beauty where males and females appear different). It is believed that it is linked to testosterone, the hair of male lions can vary from blonde to red-black, brown, and in hue and covers their neck, head, and chest.
Their Distribution and Habitat
In the past, Lions were once found across the majority of Africa and even in some parts of Europe and Asia too. Nowadays, however they are being pushed to more remote areas of their vast natural area, with their remaining African Lion population now only located that are located in sub-Saharan Africa. There’s also an isolated population of Asiatic Lions that are found in an isolated part of the Gir Forest in India.
Despite their declining numbers, Lions are actually incredibly adaptable creatures that can live in extremely dry environments as they obtain the majority of the water they require from their food. They are attracted to open woodlands, scrub, and long grasslands, where there is more than just plenty of cover but also a variety of prey. They can only be found in rainforest areas or deep into deserts.
Their Population — How Many White Lions Are Left?
As with other big cat species, The lion is also under danger from habitat destruction and hunting. From 1993 to 2014, the lion population decreased by 42 percent. The most recent assessment of the IUCN places the adult population at between 23,000-39,000 mature individuals. Lions as a species are classified in the category of “Vulnerable,” a step over being designated “Endangered.”
While the Africa lion population is likely to be more than 20000, Asiatic lion populations are estimated at 600 individuals. Asiatic Lions are restricted to only one wildlife sanctuary in India which covers just 545 sq miles (1,400 sq. km). The future growth of the population of Asiatic Lions will depend on their reintroduction to new areas of India.
Subpopulations of extinct lion species as well as subpopulations
Researchers believe 10,000 years ago, lions were the largest mammal that was not a human. But, their range today is only a tiny fraction of their historical extent. This is due to the disappearance of two distinct species of lions near the end of the last glacial period and the loss of habitat that has limited the range of lions.
The Barbary Lion used to roam throughout all of the North Coast of Africa, with a territory that extended across Egypt up to Morocco. It was until recently thought to be a distinct subspecies of lion. However, studies have revealed that it is genetically related to Asiatic Lions.
The Cape Lion was once within South Africa and was defined by its darker hair than the majority of other lion populations. Nowadays, the Cape Lion is recognized as an individual subpopulation, not an entirely different species or subspecies. There hasn’t been any lions seen within the Cape Lion’s range since 1858.
Cave Lion ( Panthera leo spelaea)
The Cave Lion was a kind of lion that spanned across Eurasia and even Alaska and then disappeared with the extinction of the steppe mammoth around 12000 years back. The species was found across the entire continent of Europe and numerous archeological sketches of lions from the region show cave-lions. The species was bigger than the lions that are still living today. Recently there have been a few cave lion cubs frozen in the winter were discovered in the permafrost of Russia.
American lion (Panthera leo atrox)
Another lion species was extinct around 12,000 years ago, during an era that saw global warming. the America lion’s territory was spread across the entire modern United States and Mexico. The American Lions is known as the biggest species of lion. Its habitat was comparable to the present African Lion, hunting in large grasslands with large mammals such as bison, deer, and even mammoths.
Their Behaviour and Lifestyle
Lions are distinct among cats because they are a group of cats that live in strong social groups. A pride is comprised of females who are 5-15 years old and their cubs, as well as typically a single male (small groups of two or three are not common). Male Lions patrol their territory of about 100m2, marking rocks and trees with urine, and roaring to keep out invaders. While male Lions are able to defend their pride with amazing effect, their place in the pride is always threatened by males that try at taking over the territory and, if they succeed, will kill any cubs who were bred by the male before them. Despite their size male Lions are actually not doing much hunting since they tend to be slower and less visible than their female counterparts. The Lionesses participate in the pride hunt are all together, meaning that they are not just more successful in their hunts however, they are also capable of capturing and killing animals that are faster than them and larger.
The roar of a lion can be quite high-pitched, reaching 114 decibels of volume. The roar of lions is powerful enough to exceed the pain threshold for humans! The roar of lions is louder than any other big cat they can be heard at a distance of approximately 5 miles (8 kilometers). The capacity to roar at this loud volume is due to special adaptations to the vocal folds of lions. The lion’s roar is usually used as a warning and also to defend their territory. In addition to warning males off the roar of lions can also help members of the pride to locate each other as the sounds lion can be heard for large distances.