Lions have been a symbol of inspiration for many years. Throughout history, people admired lions for strength, courage, and confidence.
Lions belong to the cat family, lions come next after tigers for size.
These majestic animals. Have powerful bodies and roaring sounds that can be heard five miles away.
How many types of lions are in the wild?
Lions can be grouped into main categories. The first category is African lions. ( Panthera Leo ) and Asiatic lions ( Panthera leo persica).
There are many classifications based on size, color, weight, adaptation, and even location.
But all lions display many shared characteristics with other lions across the world.
What is the difference between male(lions) and female lions (lionesses)?
This is the best question to think about for first safari-goes either in Africa or Asia. The common terms referred to in the bush are lioness for ( female) and lions (male).
The best way to distinguish is, that only male lions develop manes. The impressive fringe of long hair encircles their heads.
Despite that distinction, there are some exceptions. Some mane-less lions have been observed in Africa. “Mane-less lion” is the best destination to see a specie in Selous, Tanzania.
But also juvenile lions have some light spots on their skin that disappear with age.
Where do lions live? Lion Habits across the World
Lions are distributed across Africa, Asia, and Europe. Despite this distribution, only less than 10% remain across the world.
And most of these animals can be found in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Countries with high populations include. Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, and Namibia. Zambia and South Africa, Uganda. And other countries like Angola, Congo, Rwanda, and Ethiopia”
Lions prefer to live in open grassland, scrub, and open woodland. This helps them to move easily while on the hunt for their prey.
Though lions can adapt to different environments including the rainforest and deserts.
The common habitat for these two broad categories of lions as of now in Africa and Asia.
The Panthera Leo or African lion now lives in Africa. While Panthera leo persica or Asiatic lions are only available in India at Gir Forest.
Asiatic are very endangered and are well protected in Gir forest. If the specie could survive and thrive.
The high density of African lions is in Serengeti National Park. Maasai Mara Kenya, Ruaha National Park .
Okavango Delta ( Duba Island), . Kruger National Park at Sabi Sands. Etosha National Park in Namibia and Southern Luangwa in Zambia.
How does a lion hunt and live?
The lion groups are referred to as pride or pride. Lions are the only cats with high social behavior, they prefer living in groups.
This pride lives together. Hunt together, raised cubs and male lions protect the kingdom.
The pride can comprise 2 to 30 or even more lions. While numbers of adult males remain constant with three or four males leading the pride.
Lioness can be a dozen and their cubs. It’s common for young males to leave the group to establish their pride.
The conquest of other groups led by other Lions is the only way to start their pride.
Despite being so social, there is one specie of solitary lion. This behavior is observed in Samburu Kenya. The lions of Samburu.
What are the roles of Male lions v/s female lions (lionesses)?
Male lions defend the territory
Lions use urine to mark their territories against intruders. The scent left by urine sends signals to intruders that the “Kingdom is under control”.
But also the roaring is a warning sign to other animals.
Lionesses are hunters and leaders
Lioness works together to hunt zebra and wildebeest. Antelopes and other large mammals in the wild. Lionesses are faster than Male lions and can hunt together as a team.
“Raising cubs is the role of the lioness within the pride”
Eating within the group follows ranking orders. Adult lions should eat first, and the young and cubs should eat last.
Time will determine when the young lions join the hunting. One year or above is the preferred time for young lions to join the hunt.
Sometimes lions can hunt alone or even steal from other predators like wild dogs.
What is the classification of lions?
Different scientists have set sub-classes to lion pride to be able to identify them.
This classification can not be treated differently from the original perspective.
Rather than a deep understanding of variation. Either by size, location, color, or shape.
- African lions
- White lions
- Mane-less lions
- Asiatic lions
- Southwest lions or Katanga lions
- Maasai lions or Serengeti lions
- Abyssinian lions
- Black Maned- Lions – Kalahari desert
Though these classes show some variation most of these lions share common characteristics.
Like living in one pride, hunting and killing like others. Territorial defense and so many other likeness behaviors.
Is the second-largest lion in the world. With impressively long, busy manes of hair covering their head and neck for male lions.
Their color is golden and blond hair and brown hues.
The advantage of bush hair is for protection during the fighting. Either for territorial defense or food.
This distinctive class of white Lions makes it home only in one place on Earth. The only place in South Africa.
These lions are preserved at Timbavati and Sanbona game reserves.
Since 1977 when the publication of Chris Mcbride’s book, The White Lions of Timbavati.
“The white lions have captured the attention of the world”
The existence of these lions is the result of genetic mutations called leucism. This group of lions is very rare in the wild.
Only in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve do white lions occur naturally.
Split into two forms. white with blue eyes and pink lips, noses, and pads, and brown eyes with black lips, noses, and pads.
These lions are reserved for generations and are thriving in the wild of Africa
Yes! Mane-less lions of Africa. It’s still a mystery for scientific communities how this happens. Males lions develop fewer manes or even do not have them at all.
Maneless lions sometimes are born on the same litter as maned lions.
If your curiosity is triggered pay a visit to Selous Game Reserve. In the southern part of Tanzania in East Africa.
These are lions found in India at the Gir Forest. 94% of the lions disappeared in the wild of Asia.
The few remaining are in India. The conservation effort is going on to restore their numbers. This group of lions’ scientific name is Panthera leo persica.
They can live up to the age of 16 years. They hunt and live in pride like their African descendants.
Southwest lions or Katanga lions
This is the are the king of the beast, large in size and strength. These types of lions were proclaimed King of the Jungle.
They live in distributed places like Zambia, Botswana, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Zaire.
These lions have distinctive manes of hair around the head and neck. The strength displayed by these lions is very fierce.
You can witness this if you are in Africa for a safari. The lions in Duba Island in Botswana adopted even to swim in deep waters.
Visiting places like Chobe national park in Botswana. Here you can find lions pride which can hunt even large Elephants.
Many incidents have been reported from 1985- 2005.
Masai lions or Serengeti lions
These are the largest groups of lions that exist on Earth. Serengeti itselfs accounts for more thand 3000 lions .
While Maasai Mara accounts for more than 2400 lions. These lions are referred to as East Africa Lions or Panthera leo nubica.
These lions are available across East African plains.
The Masai lions have a good adaptation to different environments. Either low or high altitude.
Described with longer legs and their bodies are less plump. They do not have curved backs like other lion species.
The incredible display of manes as the lions get aged is awesome. Males have tufts of fur on their knees.
There is some correlation between these lions developing manes with altitude.
At high altitudes, they develop full manes compared to low altitudes.
This is one of the rarest species of lions remaining on Earth. This group of lions was adopted in 1948 from the private zoo owned by Emperor Haile Selassie.
The two lionesses and five males were adopted during that time.
It claimed that these lions originated from Southwestern Ethiopia.
Unlike other lions, this species is shorter. And males have distinctive black manes.
Their manes extend from the shoulders to the stomach.
If you want to see the lions, the only place is a small park in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Black Maned- Lions – Lions of the Kalahari desert
Black-maned lions of Kalahari are rare and iconic species. They are built for endurance.
With longer legs and larger fees, these desert dwellers are the masters of dry land.
Black-maned lions are described with. Pale gold fur and males sport distinctive black manes.
The narration is quite different here, these lions do not consist of many mating pairs.
Like in Serengeti or Maasai Mara. But the pride can consist of a single mating pair with a small pride of fewer than seven members.
These rare species of lions are so attractive to lionesses. As they contain higher levels of testrone.
The best place to see these lions is Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
This park spans northern Southern Africa and Botswana. But also shares the border with Namibia to the west.
What are the common characteristics of lions?
- They are carnivores. They depend on meat to survive ( prey )
- Live in groups commonly referred to as pride
- Territory defense is the male’s lions roles
- Fight and conquest are the way of life to establish their territories
- Life spans for lions are between 14 to 25 years
- Lion is very social and lionesses are the leaders of the group
- Lions kill and destroy males cubs of other pride during the conquest
- All lions belong to the genus Panthera and Felidae family
Which part of the world has a high population of lions?
Sub-Saharan Africa is the only place with a high number of lions counts on Earth.
You can either visit Maasai Mara in Kenya or Serengeti in Tanzania.
The best time to for lions sight in these areas is during wildebeest migration from July to October.
You can also visit Okavango Delta in Botswana. Sabi and Sands in Kruger National Park or even visiting Zambia and Etosha in Namibia.
Lions counts will make you feel excited.
Africa is home to these wildcats, the large port of land and plenty of food ensure the survival of these mammals.
What is the big threat to the survival of lions in the wild?
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Classified lions are as vulnerable to extinction.
“In Africa, the estimates show that less than 25,000 lions remain. The drop is almost 50% compared to 20’s years ago”
Lions across the globe face different challenges. Most of these threats can be attributed to human activities and developments.
- Fear of lions attacking livestock has set a war between ranch owners and lions. They use chemicals, guns, and even poison to kill lions
- Poaching activities for illegal use of lions. Their bones and other body parts have been valuable in illegal wildlife trading.
- Uncontrolled hunting. The misconception about the hunting business in many parts of the world. And especially in Africa. Have put lion species on stake. The amount paid for killing lions does not compensate for the lives lost by these kings of the jungle.
- Competition between humans and wild animals. Many controlled areas have attracted many people. Either for tourism or other development activities in Africa. And other parts of the world. The intervention of humans in harvesting wildlife. For bushmeat trade is a threat to the lion population. The survival of lions depends so on the availability of prey. Statistics show that 52% decline in the food chain in East Africa and 85% in West Africa.
- Our final remarks are as the food chain interrupted. Lions will turn to domesticated livestock
How to conserve the lion population?
Sustainable conservation is the only option that will rescue lions. From total extinction either in Africa or other parts of the world.
We acknowledge the ongoing efforts of many conservation societies and organizations.
The awareness and participation programs in Africa. Is the key to the survival of lions.
A mega project like the Serengeti lion project in Tanzania is one of the viable projects to mention.
But also international organizations including. World Wildlife Fund (WWF). African Wildlife Fund (AWF). Wildlife Conservation Societies (WCS).
And government organizations like TANAPA, KENAPA, and many others in Africa.
Conservation of lions needs joint support from the grass-root to the global level.
Offering models which support communities’ welfare. It will help to create lion ambassadors in our communities. ( Refer to the wildlife project in Maasai Mara in Kenya)
Extension of national parks and game-controlled areas. This is the other best strategy for the conservation of lions.
We acknowledge notable projects like in Zambezi Delta and Selinda area in Botswana.
We are a more civilized community than our forefathers.
Is the right time now to use our sophisticated technology for the survival of lions?
We either let our generation enjoy what we found on Earth or we become selfish and destroy what is left.
Let the sound of “SIMBA” roar from afar as we tell stories of our people. Together we can make lions thrives and live in the wild.
In case you need any help with planning for your epic East Africa safari.
Our team will be happy to assist in designing the bespoke safari experience for you. Feel free to contact Blessing Safaris Team today!