Lion

Panthera leo

The lion is one of the five big cats in the genus ''Panthera'' and a member of the family Felidae. The commonly used term African lion collectively denotes the several subspecies found in Africa. With some males exceeding 250 kg in weight, it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger. Wild lions currently exist in sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia while other types of lions have disappeared from North Africa and Southwest Asia in historic times. Until the late Pleistocene, about 10,000 years ago, the lion was the most widespread large land mammal after humans. They were found in most of Africa, across Eurasia from western Europe to India, and in the Americas from the Yukon to Peru. The lion is a vulnerable species, having seen a major population decline in its African range of 30–50% per two decades during the second half of the 20th century. Lion populations are untenable outside designated reserves and national parks. Although the cause of the decline is not fully understood, habitat loss and conflicts with humans are currently the greatest causes of concern. Within Africa, the West African lion population is particularly endangered.

Lions live for 10–14 years in the wild, while in captivity they can live longer than 20 years. In the wild, males seldom live longer than 10 years, as injuries sustained from continual fighting with rival males greatly reduce their longevity. They typically inhabit savanna and grassland, although they may take to bush and forest. Lions are unusually social compared to other cats. A pride of lions consists of related females and offspring and a small number of adult males. Groups of female lions typically hunt together, preying mostly on large ungulates. Lions are apex and keystone predators, although they are also expert scavengers obtaining over 50 percent of their food by scavenging as opportunity allows. While lions do not typically hunt humans, some have been known to do so. Sleeping mainly during the day, lions are primarily nocturnal, although bordering on crepuscular in nature.

Highly distinctive, the male lion is easily recognised by its mane, and its face is one of the most widely recognised animal symbols in human culture. Depictions have existed from the Upper Paleolithic period, with carvings and paintings from the Lascaux and Chauvet Caves, through virtually all ancient and medieval cultures where they once occurred. It has been extensively depicted in sculptures, in paintings, on national flags, and in contemporary films and literature. Lions have been kept in menageries since the time of the Roman Empire, and have been a key species sought for exhibition in zoos over the world since the late eighteenth century. Zoos are cooperating worldwide in breeding programs for the endangered Asiatic subspecies.
Male lion crushing bones Male lion eating after a kill. Big Cats,Carnivora,Eastern Africa,africa,etosha,lion,namibia

Appearance

Behind only the tiger, the lion is the second largest living felid in length and weight. Its skull is very similar to that of the tiger, although the frontal region is usually more depressed and flattened, with a slightly shorter postorbital region. The lion's skull has broader nasal openings than the tiger, however, due to the amount of skull variation in the two species, usually, only the structure of the lower jaw can be used as a reliable indicator of species. Lion colouration varies from light buff to yellowish, reddish, or dark ochraceous brown. The underparts are generally lighter and the tail tuft is black. Lion cubs are born with brown rosettes on their body, rather like those of a leopard. Although these fade as lions reach adulthood, faint spots often may still be seen on the legs and underparts, particularly on lionesses.

Lions are the only members of the cat family to display obvious sexual dimorphism – that is, males and females look distinctly different. They also have specialised roles that each gender plays in the pride. For instance, the lioness, the hunter, lacks the male's thick mane. The colour of the male's mane varies from blond to black, generally becoming darker as the lion grows older. The most distinctive characteristic shared by both females and males is that the tail ends in a hairy tuft. In some lions, the tuft conceals a hard "spine" or "spur", approximately 5 mm long, formed of the final sections of tail bone fused together. The lion is the only felid to have a tufted tail – the function of the tuft and spine are unknown. Absent at birth, the tuft develops around 5½ months of age and is readily identifiable at 7 months.

The size of adult lions varies across their range with those from the southern African populations in Rhodesia, Kalahari and Kruger Park averaging around 189.6 kg and 126.9 kg in males and females respectively compared to 174.9 kg and 119.5 kg of male and female lions from East Africa. Reported body measurements in males are head-body lengths ranging from 170 to 250 cm , tail lengths of 90–105 cm . In females reported head-body lengths range from 140 to 175 cm , tail lengths of 70–100 cm , however, the frequently cited maximum head and body length of 250 cm fits rather to extinct Pleistocene forms, like the American lion, with even large modern lions measuring several centimetres less in length. Record measurements from hunting records are supposedly a total length of nearly 3.6 m for a male shot near Mucsso, southern Angola in October 1973 and a weight of 313 kg for a male shot outside Hectorspruit in eastern Transvaal, South Africa in 1936. Another notably outsized male lion, which was shot near Mount Kenya, weighed in at 272 kg .
Close Encounter with an African Lion in the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania This picture was taken on a roadtrip from Belgium to South Africa in the Ngorongoro Crater, part of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Africa,Lion,Ngorongoro Crater,Panthera leo,Tanzania

Naming

The lion's name, similar in many Romance languages, is derived from the Latin ', and the Ancient Greek . The Hebrew word may also be related. It was one of the species originally described by Linnaeus, who gave it the name ''Felis leo'', in his eighteenth-century work, ''Systema Naturae''.Traditionally, 12 recent subspecies of lion were recognised, distinguished by mane appearance, size, and distribution. Because these characteristics are very insignificant and show a high individual variability, most of these forms were probably not true subspecies, especially as they were often based upon zoo material of unknown origin that may have had "striking, but abnormal" morphological characteristics. Today, only eight subspecies are usually accepted, although one of these, the Cape lion, formerly described as ''Panthera leo melanochaita'', is probably invalid. Even the remaining seven subspecies might be too many. While the status of the Asiatic lion as a subspecies is generally accepted, the systematic relationships among African lions are still not completely resolved. Mitochondrial variation in living African lions seemed to be modest according to some newer studies, therefore all sub-Saharan lions sometimes have been considered a single subspecies, however, a recent study revealed lions from western and central Africa differ genetically from lions of southern or eastern Africa. According to this study, Western African lions are more closely related to Asian lions than to South or East African lions. These findings might be explained by a late Pleistocene extinction event of lions in western and central Africa and a subsequent recolonization of these parts from Asia. Previous studies, which were focused mainly on lions from eastern and southern parts of Africa, already showed these can be possibly divided in two main clades: one to the west of the Great Rift Valley and the other to the east. Lions from Tsavo in eastern Kenya are much closer genetically to lions in Transvaal , than to those in the Aberdare Range in western Kenya. Another study revealed there are three major types of lions, one North African–Asian, one southern African and one middle African. Conversely, Per Christiansen found that using skull morphology allowed him to identify the subspecies ''krugeri'', ''nubica'', ''persica'', and ''senegalensis'', while there was overlap between ''bleyenberghi'' with ''senegalensis'' and ''krugeri''. The Asiatic lion ''persica'' was the most distinctive, and the Cape lion had characteristics allying it more with ''P. l. persica'' than the other sub-Saharan lions. He had analysed 58 lion skulls in three European museums.

The majority of lions kept in zoos are hybrids of different subspecies. Approximately 77% of the captive lions registered by the International Species Information System are of unknown origin. Nonetheless, they might carry genes that are extinct in the wild, and might be therefore important to maintain overall genetic variability of the lion. It is believed that those lions, imported to Europe before the middle of the nineteenth century, were mainly either Barbary lions from North Africa or lions from the Cape.
Lioness - African Queen This photograph was taken by Pietie Beytell, Chief Conservation Scientist within Namibia.  Also, the copyright and all other relevant rights of this image is reserved by the Namibian Government, under the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Directorate of Scientific Services.  This image may not be used, copied or altered in any way.  

The copyright terms and photograph as described above, is a rare opportunity for Jungle Dragon to enter into the arena of National Conservation (Government).  Please do not abuse or miss-use this privilege.  

This specific lioness was photographed from a helicopter by conservation scientists within Namibia.  They were conducting an annual "block count" by air, determining population dynamics and densities.  When they spotted this lioness, they noticed that she had very small cubs with her.  At that moment the lioness had enough of the intrusion and noise, and she lunged at the helicopter.  This shows the determination and absolute lack of fear that these gracious predators hold.  They absolutely believe that their power is strong enough to conquer anything ... even a strange and noisy machine that hangs in the air.  

The African Lion's gene pool is shrinking at an alarming rate, which in turns increases vulnerability to disease and subsequent fatalities.  The Etosha National Park Lions have a very rare and valuable trait.  They are "cat HIV" immune.  Yes, hard to believe, but lions do get and have HIV, specific to their species.  Being immune to this deadly strain, the Etosha Lions are an absolute treasure to the country and its conservation efforts.  In the past, some of these lions were "traded" with neighboring countries.  1 Lion would be traded for 8 White Rhino.  This gives an idea of its value.  

This photo will be listed under the Wildlife Stories forum ... For the Love of Lions.   Geotagged,Lion,Namibia,Panthera leo,Spring,angry,beautiful,color,determination,fantastic,focus,golden,lioness,park,protected,splendor,wonder

Distribution

In Africa, lions can be found in savanna grasslands with scattered ''Acacia'' trees, which serve as shade; their habitat in India is a mixture of dry savanna forest and very dry deciduous scrub forest. The habitat of lions originally spanned the southern parts of Eurasia, ranging from Greece to India, and most of Africa except the central rainforest-zone and the Sahara desert. Herodotus reported that lions had been common in Greece in 480 BC; they attacked the baggage camels of the Persian king Xerxes on his march through the country. Aristotle considered them rare by 300 BC. By 100 AD they were extirpated. A population of Asiatic lions survived until the tenth century in the Caucasus, their last European outpost.

The species was eradicated from Palestine by the Middle Ages and from most of the rest of Asia after the arrival of readily available firearms in the eighteenth century. Between the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, they became extinct in North Africa and Southwest Asia. By the late nineteenth century, the lion had disappeared from Turkey and most of northern India, while the last sighting of a live Asiatic lion in Iran was in 1941 , although the corpse of a lioness was found on the banks of the Karun river, Khūzestān Province in 1944. There are no subsequent reliable reports from Iran. The subspecies now survives only in and around the Gir Forest of northwestern India. Approximately 400 lions live in the area of the 1,412 km2 sanctuary in the state of Gujarat, which covers most of the forest. Their numbers have increased from 180 to 411 animals mainly because the natural prey species have recovered.Most lions now live in eastern and southern Africa, and their numbers there are rapidly decreasing, with an estimated 30–50% decline per 20 years in the late half of the 20th century. Estimates of the African lion population range between 16,500 and 47,000 living in the wild in 2002–2004, down from early 1990s estimates that ranged as high as 100,000 and perhaps 400,000 in 1950. Primary causes of the decline include disease and human interference. Habitat loss and conflicts with humans are considered the most significant threats to the species. The remaining populations are often geographically isolated from one another, which can lead to inbreeding, and consequently, reduced genetic diversity. Therefore the lion is considered a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, while the Asiatic subspecies is endangered. The lion population in the region of West Africa is isolated from lion populations of Central Africa, with little or no exchange of breeding individuals. The number of mature individuals in West Africa is estimated by two separate recent surveys at 850–1,160 . There is disagreement over the size of the largest individual population in West Africa: the estimates range from 100 to 400 lions in Burkina Faso's Arly-Singou ecosystem. Another population in northwestern Africa is found in Waza National Park, where approximately 14–21 animals persist.

Conservation of both African and Asian lions has required the setup and maintenance of national parks and game reserves; among the best known are Etosha National Park in Namibia, Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, and Kruger National Park in eastern South Africa. The Ewaso Lions Project protects lions in the Samburu National Reserve, Buffalo Springs National Reserve and Shaba National Reserve of the Ewaso Ng'iro ecosystem in Northern Kenya. Outside these areas, the issues arising from lions' interaction with livestock and people usually results in the elimination of the former. In India, the last refuge of the Asiatic lion is the 1,412 km2 Gir Forest National Park in western India, which had approximately 180 lions in 1974 and about 400 in 2010. As in Africa, numerous human habitations are close by with the resultant problems between lions, livestock, locals and wildlife officials. The Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project plans to establish a second independent population of Asiatic lions at the Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. It is important to start a second population to serve as a gene pool for the last surviving Asiatic lions and to help develop and maintain genetic diversity enabling the species to survive.

The former popularity of the Barbary lion as a zoo animal has meant that scattered lions in captivity are likely to be descended from Barbary lion stock. This includes lions at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kent, England that are descended from animals owned by the King of Morocco. Another eleven animals believed to be Barbary lions were found in Addis Ababa zoo, descendants of animals owned by Emperor Haile Selassie. WildLink International, in collaboration with Oxford University, launched their ambitious International Barbary Lion Project with the aim of identifying and breeding Barbary lions in captivity for eventual reintroduction into a national park in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco.

Following the discovery of the decline of lion population in Africa, several coordinated efforts involving lion conservation have been organised in an attempt to stem this decline.
Lions are one species included in the Species Survival Plan, a coordinated attempt by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to increase its chances of survival. The plan was originally started in 1982 for the Asiatic lion, but was suspended when it was found that most Asiatic lions in North American zoos were not genetically pure, having been hybridised with African lions. The African lion plan started in 1993, focusing especially on the South African subspecies, although there are difficulties in assessing the genetic diversity of captive lions, since most individuals are of unknown origin, making maintenance of genetic diversity a problem.
White Transvaal lion Panthera Leo Krugeri.
The white lion is not a distinct subspecies, but a special morph with a genetic condition, leucism, that causes paler colouration akin to that of the white tiger; the condition is similar to melanism, which causes black panthers. They are not albinos, having normal pigmentation in the eyes and skin. 
White Transvaal lion (Panthera leo krugeri) individuals occasionally have been encountered in and around Kruger National Park and the adjacent Timbavati Private Game Reserve in eastern South Africa, but are more commonly found in captivity, where breeders deliberately select them. The unusual cream colour of their coats is due to a recessive gene. Geotagged,Lion,Mondo Verde,Panthera leo,The Netherlands

Status

Most lions now live in eastern and southern Africa, and their numbers there are rapidly decreasing, with an estimated 30–50% decline per 20 years in the late half of the 20th century. Estimates of the African lion population range between 16,500 and 47,000 living in the wild in 2002–2004, down from early 1990s estimates that ranged as high as 100,000 and perhaps 400,000 in 1950. Primary causes of the decline include disease and human interference. Habitat loss and conflicts with humans are considered the most significant threats to the species. The remaining populations are often geographically isolated from one another, which can lead to inbreeding, and consequently, reduced genetic diversity. Therefore the lion is considered a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, while the Asiatic subspecies is endangered. The lion population in the region of West Africa is isolated from lion populations of Central Africa, with little or no exchange of breeding individuals. The number of mature individuals in West Africa is estimated by two separate recent surveys at 850–1,160 . There is disagreement over the size of the largest individual population in West Africa: the estimates range from 100 to 400 lions in Burkina Faso's Arly-Singou ecosystem. Another population in northwestern Africa is found in Waza National Park, where approximately 14–21 animals persist.

Conservation of both African and Asian lions has required the setup and maintenance of national parks and game reserves; among the best known are Etosha National Park in Namibia, Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, and Kruger National Park in eastern South Africa. The Ewaso Lions Project protects lions in the Samburu National Reserve, Buffalo Springs National Reserve and Shaba National Reserve of the Ewaso Ng'iro ecosystem in Northern Kenya. Outside these areas, the issues arising from lions' interaction with livestock and people usually results in the elimination of the former. In India, the last refuge of the Asiatic lion is the 1,412 km2 Gir Forest National Park in western India, which had approximately 180 lions in 1974 and about 400 in 2010. As in Africa, numerous human habitations are close by with the resultant problems between lions, livestock, locals and wildlife officials. The Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project plans to establish a second independent population of Asiatic lions at the Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. It is important to start a second population to serve as a gene pool for the last surviving Asiatic lions and to help develop and maintain genetic diversity enabling the species to survive.

The former popularity of the Barbary lion as a zoo animal has meant that scattered lions in captivity are likely to be descended from Barbary lion stock. This includes lions at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kent, England that are descended from animals owned by the King of Morocco. Another eleven animals believed to be Barbary lions were found in Addis Ababa zoo, descendants of animals owned by Emperor Haile Selassie. WildLink International, in collaboration with Oxford University, launched their ambitious International Barbary Lion Project with the aim of identifying and breeding Barbary lions in captivity for eventual reintroduction into a national park in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco.

Following the discovery of the decline of lion population in Africa, several coordinated efforts involving lion conservation have been organised in an attempt to stem this decline.
Lions are one species included in the Species Survival Plan, a coordinated attempt by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to increase its chances of survival. The plan was originally started in 1982 for the Asiatic lion, but was suspended when it was found that most Asiatic lions in North American zoos were not genetically pure, having been hybridised with African lions. The African lion plan started in 1993, focusing especially on the South African subspecies, although there are difficulties in assessing the genetic diversity of captive lions, since most individuals are of unknown origin, making maintenance of genetic diversity a problem.
lioness_and_cub_nxai_2015  Botswana,Geotagged,Lion,Panthera leo,Summer

Behavior

Lions spend much of their time resting and are inactive for about 20 hours per day. Although lions can be active at any time, their activity generally peaks after dusk with a period of socializing, grooming, and defecating. Intermittent bursts of activity follow through the night hours until dawn, when hunting most often takes place. They spend an average of two hours a day walking and 50 minutes eating.Most lionesses will have reproduced by the time they are four years of age. Lions do not mate at any specific time of year, and the females are polyestrous. As with other cats' penises, the male lion's penis has spines that point backward. During withdrawal of the penis, the spines rake the walls of the female's vagina, which may cause ovulation. A lioness may mate with more than one male when she is in heat; during a mating bout, which could last several days, the couple copulates twenty to forty times a day, often forgoing eating. Lions reproduce very well in captivity.


The average gestation period is around 110 days, the female giving birth to a litter of one to four cubs in a secluded den usually away from the rest of the pride. She will often hunt by herself while the cubs are still helpless, staying relatively close to the thicket or den where the cubs are kept. The cubs themselves are born blind – their eyes do not open until roughly a week after birth. They weigh 1.2–2.1 kg at birth and are almost helpless, beginning to crawl a day or two after birth and walking around three weeks of age. The lioness moves her cubs to a new den site several times a month, carrying them one by one by the nape of the neck, to prevent scent from building up at a single den site and thus avoiding the attention of predators that may harm the cubs.

Usually, the mother does not integrate herself and her cubs back into the pride until the cubs are six to eight weeks old. Sometimes this introduction to pride life occurs earlier, however, particularly if other lionesses have given birth at about the same time. For instance, lionesses in a pride often synchronise their reproductive cycles so that they cooperate in the raising and suckling of the young , who suckle indiscriminately from any or all of the nursing females in the pride. In addition to greater protection, the synchronization of births also has an advantage in that the cubs end up being roughly the same size, and thus have an equal chance of survival. If one lioness gives birth to a litter of cubs a couple of months after another lioness, for instance, then the younger cubs, being much smaller than their older brethren, usually are dominated by larger cubs at mealtimes – consequently, death by starvation is more common among the younger cubs.

In addition to starvation, cubs also face many other dangers, such as predation by jackals, hyenas, leopards, martial eagles, and snakes. Even buffaloes, should they catch the scent of lion cubs, often stampede toward the thicket or den where they are being kept, doing their best to trample the cubs to death while warding off the lioness. Furthermore, when one or more new males oust the previous male associated with a pride, the conqueror often kill any existing young cubs, perhaps because females do not become fertile and receptive until their cubs mature or die. All in all, as many as 80% of the cubs will die before the age of two.
maned male
File:Black-maned lion and cub 2.jpg|2 of 4
File:Black-maned lion and cub 3.jpg|3 of 4
File:Black-maned lion and cub 4.jpg|4 of 4


When first introduced to the rest of the pride, the cubs initially lack confidence when confronted with adult lions other than their mother. They soon begin to immerse themselves in the pride life, however, playing among themselves or attempting to initiate play with the adults. Lionesses with cubs of their own are more likely to be tolerant of another lioness's cubs than lionesses without cubs. The tolerance of the male lions toward the cubs varies – sometimes, a male will patiently let the cubs play with his tail or his mane, whereas another may snarl and bat the cubs away.


Weaning occurs after six to seven months. Male lions reach maturity at about 3 years of age and, at 4–5 years of age, are capable of challenging and displacing the adult male associated with another pride. They begin to age and weaken between 10 and 15 years of age at the latest, if they have not already been critically injured while defending the pride . This leaves a short window for their own offspring to be born and mature. If they are able to procreate as soon as they take over a pride, potentially, they may have more offspring reaching maturity before they also are displaced. A lioness often will attempt to defend her cubs fiercely from a usurping male, but such actions are rarely successful. He usually kills all of the existing cubs who are less than two years old. A lioness is weaker and much lighter than a male; success is more likely when a group of three or four mothers within a pride join forces against one male.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not only males that are ousted from their pride to become nomads, although most females certainly do remain with their birth pride. However, when the pride becomes too large, the next generation of female cubs may be forced to leave to eke out their own territory. Furthermore, when a new male lion takes over the pride, subadult lions, both male and female, may be evicted. Life is harsh for a female nomad. Nomadic lionesses rarely manage to raise their cubs to maturity, without the protection of other pride members.

One scientific study reports that both males and females may interact homosexually. Lions are shown to involved in group homosexual and courtship activities. Male Lions will also head rub and roll around with each other before having sex together.When resting, lion socialization occurs through a number of behaviours, and the animal's expressive movements are highly developed. The most common peaceful tactile gestures are head rubbing and social licking, which have been compared with grooming in primates. Head rubbing – nuzzling one's forehead, face and neck against another lion – appears to be a form of greeting, as it is seen often after an animal has been apart from others, or after a fight or confrontation. Males tend to rub other males, while cubs and females rub females. Social licking often occurs in tandem with head rubbing; it is generally mutual and the recipient appears to express pleasure. The head and neck are the most common parts of the body licked, which may have arisen out of utility, as a lion cannot lick these areas individually.





Lion roar

A lion in captivity roaring
''Problems playing this file? See .''
Lions have an array of facial expressions and body postures that serve as visual gestures. Their repertoire of vocalizations is also large; variations in intensity and pitch, rather than discrete signals, appear central to communication. Lion sounds include snarling, hissing, coughing, miaowing, woofing, and roaring. Lions tend to roar in a very characteristic manner, starting with a few deep, long roars that trail off into a series of shorter ones.
They most often roar at night; the sound, which can be heard from a distance of 8 kilometres , is used to advertise the animal's presence. Lions have the loudest roar of any big cat.
Lioness Keeps Watch, Grumeti Reserves, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania I spotted this lioness in the tree from about 300 yards off through my binoculars. When we pulled up closer, we saw that she was in fact one of about 15 lions in a pride, which was laid up on a river bank for a rest after finishing a meal of a buffalo calf it had just taken. What happened next will surely stand as one of the most incredible sights I will ever witness. The herd of buffalo from which the calf was taken returned to the site where the pride lay, and proceeded to furiously chase the lions down the river bank for 20 minutes. The females, desperately trying to protect the cubs in the pride, some of which were only a year old, tempted death with a few close calls with a couple charging bulls that were enraged over the death of the calf. Eventually, the lions ran far enough away, and the buffaloes decided they had gotten their message across. The herd retreated, but the pride did not show themselves from deep within the long grass for more than an hour after the ordeal. It was quite unnerving to witness the lions be so emasculated by the buffaloes. Yet it was a spectacular display of nature's playing field, and how nothing is immune from threats in the wild. Geotagged,Grumeti Reserves,Lion,Panthera leo,Serengeti National Park,Tanzania,Winter

Habitat

In Africa, lions can be found in savanna grasslands with scattered ''Acacia'' trees, which serve as shade; their habitat in India is a mixture of dry savanna forest and very dry deciduous scrub forest. The habitat of lions originally spanned the southern parts of Eurasia, ranging from Greece to India, and most of Africa except the central rainforest-zone and the Sahara desert. Herodotus reported that lions had been common in Greece in 480 BC; they attacked the baggage camels of the Persian king Xerxes on his march through the country. Aristotle considered them rare by 300 BC. By 100 AD they were extirpated. A population of Asiatic lions survived until the tenth century in the Caucasus, their last European outpost.

The species was eradicated from Palestine by the Middle Ages and from most of the rest of Asia after the arrival of readily available firearms in the eighteenth century. Between the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, they became extinct in North Africa and Southwest Asia. By the late nineteenth century, the lion had disappeared from Turkey and most of northern India, while the last sighting of a live Asiatic lion in Iran was in 1941 , although the corpse of a lioness was found on the banks of the Karun river, Khūzestān Province in 1944. There are no subsequent reliable reports from Iran. The subspecies now survives only in and around the Gir Forest of northwestern India. Approximately 400 lions live in the area of the 1,412 km2 sanctuary in the state of Gujarat, which covers most of the forest. Their numbers have increased from 180 to 411 animals mainly because the natural prey species have recovered.
9 lions This was a wonderful sight at our camp's watering hole.  Usually visited during the day by wildebeest, zebra, giraffe and baboons, you can see at night it's a whole different story. Africa,Geotagged,Lion,Panthera leo,Summer,Tanzania,Winter,animals,tanzania,watering hole

Reproduction

Most lionesses will have reproduced by the time they are four years of age. Lions do not mate at any specific time of year, and the females are polyestrous. As with other cats' penises, the male lion's penis has spines that point backward. During withdrawal of the penis, the spines rake the walls of the female's vagina, which may cause ovulation. A lioness may mate with more than one male when she is in heat; during a mating bout, which could last several days, the couple copulates twenty to forty times a day, often forgoing eating. Lions reproduce very well in captivity.


The average gestation period is around 110 days, the female giving birth to a litter of one to four cubs in a secluded den usually away from the rest of the pride. She will often hunt by herself while the cubs are still helpless, staying relatively close to the thicket or den where the cubs are kept. The cubs themselves are born blind – their eyes do not open until roughly a week after birth. They weigh 1.2–2.1 kg at birth and are almost helpless, beginning to crawl a day or two after birth and walking around three weeks of age. The lioness moves her cubs to a new den site several times a month, carrying them one by one by the nape of the neck, to prevent scent from building up at a single den site and thus avoiding the attention of predators that may harm the cubs.

Usually, the mother does not integrate herself and her cubs back into the pride until the cubs are six to eight weeks old. Sometimes this introduction to pride life occurs earlier, however, particularly if other lionesses have given birth at about the same time. For instance, lionesses in a pride often synchronise their reproductive cycles so that they cooperate in the raising and suckling of the young , who suckle indiscriminately from any or all of the nursing females in the pride. In addition to greater protection, the synchronization of births also has an advantage in that the cubs end up being roughly the same size, and thus have an equal chance of survival. If one lioness gives birth to a litter of cubs a couple of months after another lioness, for instance, then the younger cubs, being much smaller than their older brethren, usually are dominated by larger cubs at mealtimes – consequently, death by starvation is more common among the younger cubs.

In addition to starvation, cubs also face many other dangers, such as predation by jackals, hyenas, leopards, martial eagles, and snakes. Even buffaloes, should they catch the scent of lion cubs, often stampede toward the thicket or den where they are being kept, doing their best to trample the cubs to death while warding off the lioness. Furthermore, when one or more new males oust the previous male associated with a pride, the conqueror often kill any existing young cubs, perhaps because females do not become fertile and receptive until their cubs mature or die. All in all, as many as 80% of the cubs will die before the age of two.
maned male
File:Black-maned lion and cub 2.jpg|2 of 4
File:Black-maned lion and cub 3.jpg|3 of 4
File:Black-maned lion and cub 4.jpg|4 of 4


When first introduced to the rest of the pride, the cubs initially lack confidence when confronted with adult lions other than their mother. They soon begin to immerse themselves in the pride life, however, playing among themselves or attempting to initiate play with the adults. Lionesses with cubs of their own are more likely to be tolerant of another lioness's cubs than lionesses without cubs. The tolerance of the male lions toward the cubs varies – sometimes, a male will patiently let the cubs play with his tail or his mane, whereas another may snarl and bat the cubs away.


Weaning occurs after six to seven months. Male lions reach maturity at about 3 years of age and, at 4–5 years of age, are capable of challenging and displacing the adult male associated with another pride. They begin to age and weaken between 10 and 15 years of age at the latest, if they have not already been critically injured while defending the pride . This leaves a short window for their own offspring to be born and mature. If they are able to procreate as soon as they take over a pride, potentially, they may have more offspring reaching maturity before they also are displaced. A lioness often will attempt to defend her cubs fiercely from a usurping male, but such actions are rarely successful. He usually kills all of the existing cubs who are less than two years old. A lioness is weaker and much lighter than a male; success is more likely when a group of three or four mothers within a pride join forces against one male.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not only males that are ousted from their pride to become nomads, although most females certainly do remain with their birth pride. However, when the pride becomes too large, the next generation of female cubs may be forced to leave to eke out their own territory. Furthermore, when a new male lion takes over the pride, subadult lions, both male and female, may be evicted. Life is harsh for a female nomad. Nomadic lionesses rarely manage to raise their cubs to maturity, without the protection of other pride members.

One scientific study reports that both males and females may interact homosexually. Lions are shown to involved in group homosexual and courtship activities. Male Lions will also head rub and roll around with each other before having sex together.
Two male lions sleeping, Maasai Mara, Kenya KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA Lion,Panthera leo

Food

Lions prefer to scavenge when the opportunity presents itself, and scavenged food provides more than 50% of their diets. They scavenge animals either dead from natural causes or killed by other predators, and keep a constant lookout for circling vultures, being keenly aware that they indicate an animal dead or in distress. In fact, most dead prey on which both hyenas and lions feed upon are killed by the hyenas instead of the lions.

The lioness is the one that does most of the hunting for the pride. The male lion associated with the pride usually stays and watches its young while waiting for the lionesses to return from the hunt. Typically, several lionesses work together and encircle the herd from different points. Once they have closed with a herd, they usually target the closest prey. The attack is short and powerful; they attempt to catch the victim with a fast rush and final leap. The prey usually is killed by strangulation, which can cause cerebral ischemia or asphyxia . The prey also may be killed by the lion enclosing the animal's mouth and nostrils in its jaws .

Lions usually hunt in coordinated groups and stalk their chosen prey. However, they are not particularly known for their stamina – for instance, a lioness' heart makes up only 0.57% of her body weight , whereas a hyena's heart is close to 1% of its body weight. Thus, they only run fast in short bursts, and need to be close to their prey before starting the attack. They take advantage of factors that reduce visibility; many kills take place near some form of cover or at night. They sneak up to the victim until they reach a distance of approximately 30 metres or less.


The prey consists mainly of medium-sized mammals, with a preference for wildebeest, zebras, buffalo, and warthogs in Africa and nilgai, wild boar, and several deer species in India. Many other species are hunted, based on availability. Mainly this will include ungulates weighing between 50 and 300 kg such as kudu, hartebeest, gemsbok, and eland. Occasionally, they take relatively small species such as Thomson's gazelle or springbok. Lions hunting in groups are capable of taking down most animals, even healthy adults, but in most parts of their range they rarely attack very large prey such as fully grown male giraffes due to the danger of injury. Giraffes and buffaloes are almost invulnerable to a solitary lion as well.

Extensive studies show that lionesses normally prey on mammals with an average weight of 126 kg , while kills made by male lions average 399 kg . In Africa, wildebeest rank at the top of preferred prey followed by zebra. Lions do not prey on fully grown adult elephants; most adult hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses, and smaller gazelles, impala, and other agile antelopes are generally excluded. However, giraffes and buffaloes are often taken in certain regions. For instance, in Kruger National Park, giraffes are regularly hunted. In Manyara Park, Cape buffaloes constitute as much as 62% of the lion's diet, due to the high number density of buffaloes. Occasionally hippopotamus is also taken, but adult rhinoceroses are generally avoided. Warthogs are often taken depending on availability. The lions of Savuti, Botswana, have adapted to hunting young elephants during the dry season, and a pride of 30 lions has been recorded killing individuals between the ages of four and eleven years. In the Kalahari desert in South Africa, black-maned lions may chase baboons up a tree, wait patiently, then attack them when they try to escape:


Lions also attack domestic livestock; in India cattle contribute significantly to their diet. Lions are capable of killing other predators such as leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, and wild dogs, though they seldom devour the competitors after killing them. A lion may gorge itself and eat up to 30 kg in one sitting; if it is unable to consume all the kill it will rest for a few hours before consuming more. On a hot day, the pride may retreat to shade leaving a male or two to stand guard. An adult lioness requires an average of about 5 kg of meat per day, a male about 7 kg .


Because lionesses hunt in open spaces where they are easily seen by their prey, cooperative hunting increases the likelihood of a successful hunt; this is especially true with larger species. Teamwork also enables them to defend their kills more easily against other large predators such as hyenas, which may be attracted by vultures from kilometres away in open savannas. Lionesses do most of the hunting; males attached to prides do not usually participate in hunting, except in the case of larger quarry such as giraffe and buffalo. In typical hunts, each lioness has a favored position in the group, either stalking prey on the "wing" then attacking, or moving a smaller distance in the centre of the group and capturing prey in flight from other lionesses. There is evidence that male lions are just as successful at hunting as females; they are solo hunters who ambush prey in small bush. Young lions first display stalking behaviour around three months of age, although they do not participate in hunting until they are almost a year old. They begin to hunt effectively when nearing the age of two.
Up close with the lioness || Kalahari desert || Oct 2018
https://www.facebook.com/MohammedSalmanPics/ Lion,Panthera leo

Evolution

The lion's closest relatives are the other species of the genus ''Panthera'': the tiger, the jaguar, and the leopard. ''P. leo'' evolved in Africa between 1 million and 800,000 years ago, before spreading throughout the Holarctic region. It appeared in the fossil record in Europe for the first time 700,000 years ago with the subspecies ''Panthera leo fossilis'' at Isernia in Italy. From this lion derived the later cave lion , which appeared about 300,000 years ago. Lions died out in northern Eurasia at the end of the last glaciation, about 10,000 years ago; this may have been secondary to the extinction of Pleistocene megafauna.
Lion family on a cat walk Two lionesses with cubs in long dry grass. Africa,Big Cats,Carnivora,South Africa,cub,etosha,lion,lionnes,namibia

Cultural

The lion has been an icon for humanity for thousands of years, appearing in cultures across Europe, Asia, and Africa. Despite incidents of attacks on humans, lions have enjoyed a positive depiction in culture as strong and noble. A common depiction is their representation as "king of the jungle" or "king of beasts"; hence, the lion has been a popular symbol of royalty and stateliness, as well as a symbol of bravery; it is featured in several fables of the sixth century BC Greek storyteller Aesop.

Representations of lions date back to the early Upper Paleolithic. The lioness-headed ivory carving from Vogelherd cave in the Swabian Alb in southwestern Germany, dubbed ''Löwenmensch'' in German. The sculpture has been determined to be at least 32,000 years old from the Aurignacian culture, but it may date to as early as 40,000 years ago. The sculpture has been interpreted as anthropomorphic, giving human characteristics to an animal, however, it also may represent a deity.


Two lions were depicted mating in the Chamber of Felines in 15,000-year-old Paleolithic cave paintings in the Lascaux caves. Cave lions also are depicted in the Chauvet Cave, discovered in 1994; this has been dated at 32,000 years of age, though it may be of similar or younger age to Lascaux.

Ancient Egypt venerated the lioness as their war deities and among those in the Egyptian pantheon are, Bast, Mafdet, Menhit, Pakhet, Sekhmet, Tefnut, and the Sphinx; The Nemean lion was symbolic in Ancient Greece and Rome, represented as the constellation and zodiac sign Leo, and described in mythology, where its skin was borne by the hero Heracles.

The lion was a prominent symbol in ancient Mesopotamia , where it was strongly associated with kingship. The classic Babylonian lion motif, found as a statue, carved or painted on walls, is often referred to as the ''striding lion of Babylon''. It is in Babylon that the biblical Daniel is said to have been delivered from the lion's den.


In the Talmud, , Rabbi Joshua ben Hananiah tells Emperor Hadrian about the giant lion of the forest of Bei Ilai called the ''Tigris'', a lion so huge that the space between its ears measures 9 cubits. The emperor asks the rabbi to call forth this lion. He reluctantly agrees. At a distance of 400 parasangs from Rome it roars, and all pregnant women miscarry and all the walls of Rome fall down. Then it comes to 300 parasangs and roars, and all the front teeth and molars of Roman men fall out, and even the emperor himself falls from his throne. He begs the rabbi to send it back. The rabbi prays and it returns to its place.

In the Puranic texts of Hinduism, Narasimha a half-lion, half-man incarnation or of Vishnu, is worshipped by his devotees and saved the child devotee Prahlada from his father, the evil demon king Hiranyakashipu; Vishnu takes the form of half-man/half-lion, in Narasimha, having a human torso and lower body, but with a lion-like face and claws. Singh is an ancient Indian vedic name meaning "lion" , dating back over 2000 years to ancient India. It was originally only used by Rajputs a Hindu Kshatriya or military caste in India. After the birth of the Khalsa brotherhood in 1699, the Sikhs also adopted the name "Singh" due to the wishes of Guru Gobind Singh. Along with millions of Hindu Rajputs today, it is also used by over 20 million Sikhs worldwide. Found famously on numerous flags and coats of arms all across Asia and Europe, the Asiatic lions also stand firm on the National Emblem of India. Farther south on the Indian subcontinent, the Asiatic lion is symbolic for the Sinhalese, Sri Lanka's ethnic majority; the term derived from the Indo-Aryan ''Sinhala'', meaning the "lion people" or "people with lion blood", while a sword-wielding lion is the central figure on the national flag of Sri Lanka.


The Asiatic lion is a common motif in Chinese art. They were first used in art during the late Spring and Autumn Period , and became much more popular during the Han Dynasty , when imperial guardian lions started to be placed in front of imperial palaces for protection. Because lions have never been native to China, early depictions were somewhat unrealistic; after the introduction of Buddhist art to China in the Tang Dynasty , lions usually were wingless, with shorter, thicker bodies, and curly manes. The lion dance is a form of traditional dance in Chinese culture in which performers mimic a lion's movements in a lion costume, often with musical accompaniment from cymbals, drums, and gongs. They are performed at Chinese New Year, the August Moon Festival and other celebratory occasions for good luck.

The island nation of Singapore derives its name from the Malay words and , which in turn is from the Tamil-Sanskrit சிங்க ''singa'' ...snipped... and புர ...snipped..., which is cognate to the Greek , ''pólis''. According to the Malay Annals, this name was given by a fourteenth-century Sumatran Malay prince Sang Nila Utama, who, on alighting the island after a thunderstorm, spotted an auspicious beast on shore that appeared to be a lion.

The name of the nomadic Hadendoa people, inhabiting parts of Sudan, Egypt, and Eritrea, is made up of ''haɖa'' 'lion' and ''ɖiwa'' 'clan'. Other variants are ''Haɖai ɖiwa'', ''Hanɖiwa'', and ''Haɖaatʼar'' .


"Lion" was the nickname of several medieval warrior rulers with a reputation for bravery, such as the English King Richard the Lionheart, Henry the Lion, , Duke of Saxony, William the Lion, King of Scotland, and Robert III of Flanders nicknamed "The Lion of Flanders"—a major Flemish national icon up to the present. Lions are frequently depicted on coats of arms, either as a device on shields themselves, or as supporters, but the lioness is much more infrequent. The formal language of heraldry, called blazon, employs French terms to describe the images precisely. Such descriptions specified whether lions or other creatures were "rampant" or "passant", that is whether they were rearing or crouching. The lion is used as a symbol of sporting teams, from national association football teams such as England, Scotland and Singapore to famous clubs such as the Detroit Lions of the NFL, Chelsea and Aston Villa of the English Premier League, , Eintracht Braunschweig of the Bundesliga, and to a host of smaller clubs around the world.

Lions continue to be featured in modern literature, from the messianic Aslan in ''The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe'' and following books from The Chronicles of Narnia series written by C. S. Lewis, to the comedic Cowardly Lion in ''The Wonderful Wizard of Oz''. The advent of moving pictures saw the continued presence of lion symbolism; one of the most iconic and widely recognised lions is Leo the Lion, which has been the mascot for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios since the 1920s. The 1960s saw the appearance of what is possibly the most famous lioness, the Kenyan animal Elsa in the movie ''Born Free'', based on the true-life international bestselling book of the same title. The lion's role as King of the Beasts has been used in cartoons, from the 1950s manga that gave rise to the first Japanese colour TV animation series, ''Kimba the White Lion'', Leonardo Lion of ''King Leonardo and His Short Subjects'', both from the 1960s, up to the 1994 Disney animated feature film ''The Lion King'', which also featured the popular song "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" in its soundtrack. A lion appears on the 50-rand South African banknote.

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