The Lion is one of the four big cats in the genus Panthera, and a member of the family Felidae. Commonly known as the Kings of the Jungle with strong muscles, compact bodies and powerful forelegs, teeth, and jaws for pulling down and killing prey, acute eyesight, and intimidating roaring, they appear as a symbol of power and dominance, audacity and aristocracy in national flags, clothing’s, coats of arms and family crests.
They are the lions, the largest African carnivores standing between three and a half and four feet tall at the shoulder. Their coats are yellow-gold, and adult males have long, dark, shaggy manes. Young lions have light spotting on their coats that will disappear as they grow up. Male lions grow larger than females, reaching up to ten feet long, and weigh from 330 to 530 pounds, while females weigh 270 to 300 pounds. Lions are the only truly social cat species, and usually every female in a pride of 5-37 individuals is closely related. Pride lionesses frequently enter breeding season together and later give birth at the same time which allows them to share nursing and other maternal duties. A hungry lion pride feeds on many animals that pass through or share its home range. As specialized communal predators, a pride’s role includes keeping herbivore populations in balance with the resources available in their area of the plains. Lions eat primarily large animals, such as zebra and wildebeest, weighing from 100 to 1,000 pounds. In times of shortage, they also catch and eat a variety of smaller animals from rodents to reptiles. They are also known for their stealing reputation as they steal kills from hyenas, leopards, and other predators, but may also lose their catches to hyena groups. The lions also underpin the increasing human-wildlife conflict as they are also famed on feeding on domestic livestock, especially in areas near villages. An adult lion’s roar can be heard up to five miles away and warns off intruders or reunites scattered pride members. But for all their intimidating roaring, growling and ferocious appearance, lions are family animals and truly social in their communities. They hunt prey together, raise cubs and defend their territory together. Lions have long been killed in rituals of bravery, as hunting trophies, and for their medicinal and magical powers. Except for a small population that hangs on in the dry Gir Forest of northwest India, lions now live only in Africa and is listed as vulnerable on the World Conservation Union’s (IUCN’s) Red List of Threatened Animals. With a growing human population surrounding parks, habitat loss and conflicts with humans are the lions’ greatest threat.