Lion, as we all know it as the “King of the Jungle”, does live life king style (Although they are found in the planes and grasslands). Lazing around, being fed and sleeping for around 20 hours, the lion doesn’t has to worry about anything except protecting his kingdom. By kingdom, I don’t mean the jungle but the pride that the lion proudly owns. Lions, who were the second most widely spread species after humans, can now be found only in Africa and India these days. They were spread all across the Africa (even North) and Eurasia (Greece to Southeastern Europe). Now, it is an endangered species as declared by IUCN.
Let’s read some wild facts about the King of the Jungle.
Source: wikipedia.com, Image: Safari Partners, flickr.com
1. The beast!
This humongous male cat weighs around 180 kg (396 lbs) and the female around 132 kg (290 lbs) on an average but some male cats can weigh more than 250 kg (550 lbs) and the heaviest lion has been measured 313 kg (616 lbs).
They are found in the sub-Saharan African desert and in the Gir National Park in India. It is found in limited quantities in other Indian national parks as well, where the administration is trying to save the species from extinction.
3. Decline in population!
The species has been cutting half in number, every twenty years, after the half of the twentieth century since firing methods have been invented and used to kill them.
4. Age and survival
The male lion on an average lives for 14-15 years. The fights with the rivalry lions or predators to protect their pride or prey leaves the male lion in the wild vulnerable to bad health, due to which they live 5 years lesser as compared to the captive lions.
5. Lazy Royal Lion
The lionesses hunt for preys in groups as they are more agile, swift and light than the lion. They have support from one another and the lion comes to their support in case there is a bigger prey or in case he needs to protect them. Lion gets to eat first and hence the most.
Source: wikipedia.com, Image: Mathias Appel, flickr.com
6. The epic apex!
Lions are apex keystone predators, meaning that there is no other animal that would prey on a lion or kill it for food. Other predators might try scavenging and put a fight to steal the prey.
Even lions obtain 50% of there food by scavenging depending on the opportunity. They would either eat on the dead food that they find in the wild or steal it from other predators like hyenas etc.
8. Hunters of the night
Like other big cats of the genus panthera, lions usually hunt in the night. Their eyesight is six times more vulnerable than humans, which gives them a very strong night vision, giving them an advantage over other animals. Occasionally, they might hunt in the twilight.
9. The logo perfect lion
Lion is the most distinctive of all the big five cats as it is the only one that has such dominant sexual dimorphism. This means that the male looks distinctively different than the female. In this case, it is the mane of the Lion that gives the gender identity to the lion. It has been used in so many pictures, paintings, sculptures, engravings and even flags. Some of the references that have been found from Lascaux Chauvet Caves, date back to as long as 17,000 years.
Source: wikipedia.com, Image: pinterest.com
The name lion is derived from the Latin word Leo. The word leo is often used in astrology to denote lion in many cultures and countries.
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11. Eight great species
Based on size, shape, mane, face, behavior and habitat, they are distinguished as eight species.
12. How the Hybrids?
The lion mate with other members of the genus panthera family. There offspring with tigers are known as “ligers or tiglons”. Hybrids with jaguars are called “jaglions” and leopons with leopards.
Source: wikipedia.com, Image: liger-hercules.com
13. The cute cubs
The lion cubs are born with rosettes on their skin like leopards have. They are born blind, start crawling, within in one or two days and start walking around after about three days. The mother keeps shifting the cubs several times in a month to keep them safe. She picks them up from the nape of their neck and shifts to another place, so that their smell wouldn’t linger around for the predators to smell and attack the cubs.
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Lions are of different colors and it can vary from light buff to yellowish, reddish, or brown/dark brown.
Source: wikipedia.com Image: ispyonanimals.com
15. Judge it by the mane!
The mane says a lot about a lion’s health. The color, the size, the density of the mane is related to the genetic precondition, sexual maturity and the testosterone production. The rule of thumb is, darker and fuller the mane, healthier the lion. The lioness prefer lions with a darker and a fuller mane.
16. The pride of a lion!
The resident lions live with related lionesses and their offspring in a pride. There are around five to six females and normally two lions that mate with the adult females. A pride as big as of 30 members has been seen too. Some females might leave the pride and become nomadic, but usually the females in a pride change with death or birth. Number of males might increase to four before it comes back to two. Lions leave their maternal pride once they reach maturity around 2-3 years of their age.
Source: wikipedia.com, Image: livescience.com
This is the second type of organizing behavior. The males sometimes leave the pride and live alone or with a group of male lions. It is a rule with the lions that they become a nomad at least once in their lives.
18. Entry and exit from a group
This behavior might change with time and the nomads may want to join back with the pride. They might have to face a little difficulty to get back in the pride. It is even harder for the female nomads to join a group because the females are related and they might not want to let the unrelated female to join the group.
19. Pride and Range
The area occupied by a pride is called the pride area whereas, the area of nomads is called a range.
20. Roles and responsibilities
Generally, the male defends the pride and the females hunt and raise the cubs. The roles are divided among the pride members according to their strength and capability. The stronger the lion, safer the pride. The strongest lion has the best female ranking. The lion has to defend its pride to save his relationships.
Source: wikipedia.com, Image: myhdanimals.blogspot.com
21. Quick but not athletic
The lion can run up to 50 mph (80 km/h) for a short distance as it lacks stamina. There heart is only 0.54% of its body, whereas a hyena’s heart is 1% of its body weight.
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22. The competition
The lions have competition too. Other predators like hyenas can give lions a run for their food sometimes. Lions steal preys from hyenas but sometimes it can happen the other way round too. Hyenas wait at a distance of around 30-100 m and wait till the lions are done. But, they can also bravely eat alongside or even take it from the lions.
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23. The dominating cat
Lions dominate the other smaller cats like Cheetas and leopards. They also kill the cubs of the Cheetas and Cheetas have 50% chance to loose their kill to Lions.
24. The Maneaters!
The lions don’t usually hunt humans but some lions (mostly males), do hunt human beings sometimes. The reason could be a weak jaw or decreased ability to hunt animals but it is not supported by all researchers. The more likely cause would be the decrease in the number of the prey animals. As they are unable to find animal preys in the human-dominated areas, lions start to feed on humans.
Source: wikipedia.com, Image: youtube.com
Most lionesses start reproducing as soon as at four years of age. There is no particular time for the lions to mate but the lioness mates only when it’s in heat. The female might mate with more than one lion. The average gestation period for a lioness is 110 days and it gives birth to one to four cubs in a secluded den.
Lions have the loudest roar that can be heard from a distance of 8 kms. They do this to display their presence or to inform the pride members.
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Lions communicate with other members with touch, voice and expression. They rub heads and necks in order to comfort others. This has been seen when a separated member of the pride comes back. The male rubs the male and the female rubs the female and the cubs. They make different forms of voice gestures like roaring, meowing, woofing, hissing, hushing and snarling.
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28. At it’s toes
The lion’s heels don’t touch the ground while walking.
29. The War Diety
Lion is symbol of strength and courage, royalty and stateliness and power and fierceness. Ancient Egyptians used to respect lions as there war deities because of it’s powerful and fierce nature.