(Panthera leo)

Range and habitat
African lions live in most of the sub-Saharan region of Africa, in open landscapes with grass. Previously, lions were exterminated in South Africa. Therefore, they now live there in national parks such as Kruger National Park and Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, where they are protected as much as possible. Lions used to live between Southwest Asia and North Africa.

Lions have short fur and a long tail with a black plume at the end. Male lions are known for their mane. No feline has such an imposing head of hair. The mane starts growing from the age of three, varying in color from white-yellow, deep brown to black. The mane is fuller when lions live in open territory.

The males can impress females with their manes; lionesses prefer males with a large, dark head of hair. But the mane is also functional during fights: the thick mane is a good protection.

Did you know?
  • Primarily females hunt. Males are more conspicuous because of their appearance and are therefore less successful in hunting
  • The roar of a lion can be heard from five kilometers away
  • A lion rests for about twenty hours a day
  • Length Body 158 - 250 cm., tail 60 - 100 cm
  • Weight 122 - 225 kg
  • Lifespan Males in the wild average 10 years, females 15 years. Max. in the wild: males 16 years, females 18 years. There are known cases of 29 years. Max. in captivity 30 years. Females usually live longer than males
  • Range Africa and India
  • Habitat Open landscapes with grass

Lions reproduce throughout the year. Lionesses have a litter on average every two years. When a lioness is pregnant she has a gestation period of over one hundred days. Usually two to three cubs are born at a time. The cubs remain dependent on their mother for another two years. When they are about three years old, they must leave the group. Lionesses, however, always remain in their mother’s territory.

The leader of the group reproduces with all the lionesses in the group. He is regularly challenged by other male lions. The winner of the fight becomes or remains the leader, the loser must leave the group. A new harem holder then often kills the young cubs of his predecessor. This way he makes sure that the females are fertile again quickly (because females that are still suckling are not fertile) and that he can spread his genes.

Lions are predatory carnivores. Their favorite prey is gazelles, zebras, impalas and wildebeests. They hunt in groups, but the final kill is done by an individual lioness. They have no trouble hunting prey larger than themselves. The lionesses are responsible for the vast majority of hunting; the males are too conspicuous because of their manes. Nevertheless, male lions are more aggressive during feeding than lionesses, despite not having killed the prey.

Behaviour and way of life
Lions live together in prides. The pride consists of related females who form a close-knit group. Lionesses suckle each other’s cubs and lionesses are often pregnant at the same time. This ensures that there is little evidence of dominant behavior, whereas this is normally present in similar social groups. The male lions at the head of the pride are animals that have taken control of the group after having defeated the competition. These are therefore lions that are not related to the group. To gain control, males, often brothers, form groups. They do this after living alone for about two to three years from the age of three.

A lion sometimes rests for up to twenty hours a day. This is because living in high temperatures and digesting carcasses takes a lot of energy. Just don’t think that the animal loses sight of its territory then; a lion always keeps a close eye on everything.

AAP and lions

It is unfortunately not universally accepted that a lion belongs in the wild. Lions are unfortunately still used in Europe as entertainment in circuses.

When the legislation in a country changes and using the animals is no longer allowed, the animals are sometimes left behind at the circus. Like lion Govani, who was left behind in a filthy little mobile cage and was in very bad shape. AAP is campaigning against the use of wild animals in entertainment.