Lion Habitat, Features and Facts

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1) The Characteristics of the Lion
2) Lion Habitat and Distribution
3) Lions Groups
4) The Lions Hunt
5) Reproduction and life cycle
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In this article, our team will tell you about the Lion's habitat, its characteristics and the amazing facts about it. First of all, it should be known that they are the second largest cats in the world, after tigers. Nicknamed the king, which is not necessarily accurate as seen in the article, is the lion the king of animals? these royal felines once roamed Africa, Asia and Europe, but now only live in parts of Africa and India.

Overall, lions are active at night and stay in different habitats, but they prefer grasslands, savannah, dense brush and open woods. In the past, they lived in a large part of Europe, Asia and Africa, but today they are mainly found in different parts of Africa south of the Sahara. Within Gir National Park in India is a population of about 650 Asian lions under protection.

mane lion in the savannah

1) The Characteristics of the Lion
The lion is really an extraordinary animal, it has a long muscular body, with an imposing head and short legs. However, these characteristics vary by gender, both in size and appearance. The main asset of the dominant male is his mane, which varies according to individuals and populations. In some lions it is completely absent, in others it is shorter or completely full by covering the back of the head, neck and shoulders and continuing on the throat and chest to go along the belly. Concerning the colour, some lions have very dark, almost black manes, giving a majestic appearance but this can vary in a rare way as in white lions. The mane makes large males appear to intimidate enemies and attract the opposite sex).

The size of an adult male reaches about 1.8 to 2.1 meters long without considering its tail. As for its height, the lion measures about 1.2 metres at shoulder level and weighs between 170 and 250 kg. On its side, the lioness is smaller, it reaches a length of about 1.5 meters, and a height of 0.9 to 1.1 meters at the shoulder, its weight varies between 120 and 180 kg. The lion's fur has many shades, from buff yellow, orange brown or silvery grey to dark brown, with a tuft at the tip of the tail that is often darker than the fur.

2) Lion Habitat and Distribution
In the past, during the Pleistocene, lions developed in North America as well as in Africa, within most of the Balkans, Anatolia and the Middle East as far as India. Some studies highlight that the lion has evolved in eastern and southern Africa, dividing into a number of subspecies such as the Barbary lion in North Africa, the American lion in North and Central America, the cave lion in Europe, the Asian lion in the Middle East and India.

About 10,000 years ago lions disappeared from North America, the Balkans about 2,000 years ago and Palestine during the Crusades. By the 21st century, their numbers had dropped to about ten thousand, and those living outside national parks had lost their habitat to agriculture.

Lions are now listed as vulnerable species by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and several subspecies have not survived.

lion on the IUCN list

Today, the lion's main landmark is in sub-Saharan Africa, while the Asian lion has almost disappeared, leaving a population of about 500 individuals in Gir National Park in India's Kathiawar Peninsula.

Humans remain the major problem concerning the mortality of lion populations and in particular shepherds. Despite these difficulties, lion populations are healthy in many African reserves and in Gir, and they are a major tourist attraction. High densities of lion populations, however, can be a problem for local breeders.

3) Lions Groups
Only lions live in groups, they are unique among all cats. Generally speaking, members of a group spend the day in different separate groups that come together to hunt or share a meal. A group is composed of different generations of lionesses, some of whom are related, and a smaller number of breeding males and their offspring.

A group starts with 4 members up to 37, overall the average size is 15 members. An area is defined by each group that is defended against lions who would be intruders, there is an area where some overlap would be allowed. The surface area of a territory can vary, this is defined by the abundance of prey, when a territory has a large number of prey it can only be 20 km2. However, if game becomes rare, an area can reach up to 400 km2. Some females can be proud and use the same territory for decades by transmitting it to each other. In order to proclaim their territory, lions roar and mark their territory with smells. Their distinctive roar is often emitted in the evening before a hunting night and again before dawn. In order to proclaim their presence, males urinate on bushes, trees and the ground, leaving a smell behind them. In addition, their defecations and bush rubbing leave olfactory marks.

The creation of lion groups has different explanations for evolution, the large size of their bodies as well as the high density of their main prey should make the life of the group more effective for females. For example, groups of females hunt more efficiently and are better able to defend the young against infanticide males as well as opposing females. However, these factors are being debated and nothing has been proven to date.

group of lionesses

4) The Lions Hunt
Lions hunt a wide variety of animals, from rodents and baboons to buffaloes and hippos, but they mainly hunt medium to large hoofed animals such as wildebeests, zebras and antelopes. Lions have a reputation for attacking elephants and giraffes, but only if the individual is young or sick. They simply eat all the meat they can find, including carrion and fresh meat they find or steal from hyenas, cheetahs or wild dogs. Most of the time it is the lionesses who hunt in the savannah, and the males generally appropriate their meals. Despite this, male lions have an excellent hunting ability, and in some areas they often hunt. Some males living in wooded habitats spend less time with females and hunt for their meals.

More than 40 kg of meat per day can be consumed by an adult male during a single meal allowing the lion to rest for a week. In an environment with abundant prey, males and females generally spend 21 to 22 hours a day resting, sleeping and hunting for 2 to 3 hours a day.

roaring lion cub

5) Reproduction and life cycle
Lions are polygamous and breed all year round, but females are generally restricted to one or two adult males in their group. When lions are in captivity, they often breed annually. However, in the wild they do not breed more than once every two years generally. The reproductive cycle of the female is very variable, they become receptive to mating during three to four days of this cycle.

During this period a couple generally copulates every 20-30 minutes, with up to 50 copulations per 24 hours. This stimulates ovulation in the female, and secures the male's paternity. A gestation period averages 108 days and varies from one to six young, frequently giving two to four young.

Newborns are helpless and blind with thick coats with dark spots that normally disappear with maturity. From the age of three months they can start following their mother and are weaned at six or seven months. They start participating in the hunt at the age of 11 months but cannot survive on their own until they are two years old. It is often surprising to know that lionesses are particularly inattentive mothers and often leave their young alone for up to 24 hours. In nature, sexual maturity comes around three or four years of age.

lioness with her cubs

Young lions are expelled from the group around the age of three in order to become nomads and grow up to try to take over another group (after the age of five). However, it is not uncommon for adult males to remain nomadic throughout their lives. It is difficult to mate for nomadic males, competition between male lions for the defense of the territory and mate with females is fierce. Overall, the large coalitions have a high number of surviving descendants.

If a new cohort of adult lions is able to take pride, they will seek to kill the young males born of their predecessors. This shortens the time until the mothers of the young are ready to mate again. Females try to prevent this infanticide by hiding or defending their young directly. Lionesses generally do a better job of protecting older children because they would leave the troop earlier. In the wild, wild lions rarely live longer than 8 to 10 years, mainly due to attacks by humans or other lions or the effects of kicking and throat of targeted prey. In captivity, they can live 25 years or more.


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