The lion is a carnivorous mammal belonging to the feline family. It is only found in its natural state in Africa and Asia. Nicknamed the “king of animals”, he owes his title to his mane which can be compared to the aura of the sun. Since 2017, the lion population has fallen by 43%.
The characteristics of the lion
The adult male lion measures between 172 and 250 cm long and 100 to 128 cm high. It weighs between 145 and 180 kg for Asian specimens. In Africa, they are larger, with an average weight of 225 kg. However, rare individuals can reach 300 kg. It is usually light brown, but can also be white. There is, however, no evidence of a natural black coat.
If the male lion sports a magnificent mane as an adult, the female, the lioness, is completely devoid of it. The little ones are called lion cubs and it is only around the age of 3 that their mane begins to grow. The male has a life expectancy of 7 to 12 years, while the female can live between 14 and 20 years. In captivity, the average age is greater: lions can live up to 30 years. The lion’s cry is called the roar.
Unlike the majority of other felines, the lion lives in groups. It is therefore part of the family of gregarious animals. The pack is hierarchical, with well-defined roles. Females hunt and care for the young, while males guard and protect their territory. Lionesses are capable of reaching peak speeds of 60 km/h, but only over a short distance. Their lion leaps are just as impressive since they can reach 3.70 m in height and up to 11 m in length.
The different species of lions
Only two types of lions exist, differentiated by the continent on which they live.
The Asian lion (Panthera leo persica)
If originally there was only one race of lions. That of Asia dissociated itself from its African namesake many years ago. The Asian lion can be recognized by its smaller size, its less prominent mane, its fold under the belly and its less thick hair at the elbow. Formerly, its natural habitat extended across the entire Indian subcontinent.
The African lion (Panthera leo leo)
This lion is larger and often larger than that of Asia. Its territory extended across the entire continent, as far as southern Europe. But today, it is only found south of the Sahara and in the north of South Africa.
The lion: an endangered species
The lion is an animal highly prized by poachers and traffickers. Elevated to the rank of protected animals, lions nonetheless remain the favorite prey of wealthy hunters. At the beginning of the 20th century, Asiatic lions almost became extinct. Many measures have been put in place to allow their population to increase, however, the surface area of their territory continues to reduce.