KNOW YOUR LIONS.…World Lion Day 2018
A Lion is a large mammal of the cat family (felidae) and its the second biggest cat after the Tiger, they have yellow-gold coats and adult males have shaggy hair (manes) that ranges from blonde , black and reddish brown. The manes varies according to the age and genes. However the young ones have spots on their bodies which disappears as they grow. The male lions are generally bigger in size and they and they weigh about 330kg while the females weigh about 260kg. Males grow to about 4m while females grow to about 2.7 m.
Species of lions of the World
1)North African Lion(Barbary)
Panthera leoleo this subspecies occurred in Morocco , Egypt and Tunisia and even Algeria however this species is extinct due to hunting and the last lion died in Morocco in the year 1920(extinct)
2)West African Lion
Panthera leo senegalensis is found in Western African. Its the smallest species of all the sub-Saharan Africa lions. This groups numbers have drastically dropped and its estimated that only 1500 individuals roam the wild.
Panthera leo azandica is a species of lion that once existed in Rwanda but is not any more. They are found in Western Congo DRC (Virunga National Park) and western Uganda (Queen Elizabeth National Park)
4) Southwest African Lion
Panthera leo bleyenberghi also knows as Katanga lion is found in southwestern countries like Angola, Zimbabwe, Zaire, Botswana and Namibia, according to research its the species with the biggest lions among all the species.
5) Maasai Lion
Panthera leo nubica found in East Africa countries(Kenya, Ethiopaia and Tanzania).
6) The Ethiopian Lion
Panthera leo roosevelti , this lion was originally considered to be the East African lion but later on when genetic analysis was carried out after it was kept in Addis abbaba zoo it was classified as a sub species of the East Africa lion.
Panthera leo krugeri is found in the southern parts of South Africa in the famously known Kruger National Park as well as Swaziland Hlane Royal National Park
Panthera leo persica ,due to the few remaining numbers of about 350-400 individuals this remaining individuals have been confined in Gir National Park and wildlife Sanctuary in India. They are the only forest lions in the whole world and they are very small in size just like the Central African lion. This lions are classified as endangered species according to IUCN.
Habitat and Food
This species inhabit a big range of habitats like the the open plains, thick bush and dry forests. Currently lions are in only found in the Northern and Southern sub Saharan Africa. The lions are carnivorous and sometimes scavengers. They mostly prey on the ungulates but in times of drought they even feed on small mammals like the rodents. A mature lion can consume up to 6.5 kg of meat in a day while a female lioness can consume about 5 kg of meat. Hunting is done by the females but during feeding the male feeds first, followed by the females and the curbs feed last.
The lions are extremely social animals which live in groups called prides a pride may consist of about 15-20 individuals. Female lionesses don’t leave their prides but when the males reach maturity they are forced to exit the group to go and compete with the dominant males, they create coalitions with their relatives(brothers and cousins) and search prides to take over, its sad that during this stage the cubs that are not strong enough are killed. Its the duty of the males to defend their territories. They mark their territories by scent-marking using urine and roaring which is heard at a distance of about 8 km . Parenting is done by the females.
Maturity and Reproduction
Males mature at the age 2-4 years while the females mature at 4 years of age. They mate for 5 days and mating is for every 30 minutes and they copulate about 45 times in one day.Gestation period is about 3-4 months and they give birth to litter size of about 1-4 curbs. The curbs are born blind and they weigh about 2.5 kg. The curbs are nursed to about a period of 6 months. Its sad that about 70% of curbs die within the the first year of their birth due to frequent attacks from the male lions, hyenas and leopards.
The lifespan of lions in the wilderness is between 12-16 years and in in captivity is about 20- 25 years
Importance of lions
Well known as king of the jungle and used for many purposes as a symbol of bravery the lion plays a significant role in the ecosystem. Lions pray a key role in herbivore populations control for instant when the populations are not control their will be competition among the species and this may result into extinction of the weaker species thus “biodiversity loss”. The lions are important in terms of disease control among herds because it kills the weakest individual of the herd and this keeps the populations healthy and more significantly earns Kenya foreign exchange through tourism.
All the lion species are vulnerable, the main threats to this iconic species are facing is trophy hunting this because when hunting the dominant males are always targeted and once they are killed the prides become weak since the defender is dead , they are prone to attacks thus a whole pride may die, habitat loss and habitat fragmentation threaten their survival.
You can protect lions
Visit lion-recovery fund.org
Beyond the trails globo….travel far and wide!