Scientific Name: Panthera leo
IUCN Status: Vulnerable (global), Endangered (Asia), & Critically Endangered (West Africa)
Weight: 242-600 pounds
Lions are divided into 2 populations, African lions, with 2 subspecies, and Asian. Lions are the largest carnivore in Africa and the second largest cat species overall. Lions and tigers are comparable in all measurements; however the lion has a longer skull. The lion is powerfully built with a deep chest and heavily built limbs. The lion is the only cat that is sexually dimorphic, males having a mane, belly fringe and elbow tufts, whereas females of the same species lack. The Lion is uniformly coloured without body markings and is typically pale to dark tawny or sand coloured with cream or white underparts. The ears have black backs and the tail ends in a distinct tassel of black or very dark brown. This is the only feline species that lives in a group, also known as a pride.
The lion is a highly opportunistic predator. Their diet is typically dominated by ungulates, zebras, wildebeests, buffaloes, giraffes, and impalas. Very large prey includes hippopotami, rhinos, and female elephants. Lions have been recorded killing primates, porcupines and many bird species, including ostriches.
Lions breed year round, though births often peak when seasonal ungulates give birth. Gestation lasts 98-115 days, averaging 110 days. Litter size is typically 2-4 cubs. Lionesses usually leave the pride to give birth, and will return when the cubs are around 6-8 weeks old when weaning begins. A male’s mane begins to develop at 6-8 months.