African Lion (Panthera Leo)

Male: 350-550 # Female: 275-400 # Height: M – 4’ F – 3.5’ General description:

  • Only big cat with tail tuft
  • Only male cat with mane
  • Massive limbs for attack
  • Canine teeth 2.5 inches long
  • Nocturnal, sleep 20-21 hours per day
  • Very social, average size of pride is 4-6 females
  • Young are raised communally
  • Form lifetime alliances with females unless ejected by new males
  • Females do most of hunting, are visual hunters
  • Both sexes scent mark territories
  • Range depends on quantity of prey
  • Males often prevent cubs starvation by controlling remains of a carcass preventing Lionesses from feeding thus allowing the cubs to feed
  • Males taking over a pride will attempt to kill any cubs under 1 year of age. Lionesses may be killed trying to defend her cubs. More than ¼ of all cubs are killed by invading males to stop the previous male’s bloodline.
  • Only Lions and Tigers can roar to communicate and establish territories
  • Top running speed approximately 50-60 km/hr
  • Males eat ~ 40kg or ¼ of their body weight in one meal
  • Gestation period is ~ four months
  • Eyes open shortly after birth, cubs fur is spotted,
  • Sex ratio in litter is 2 females to 1 male
  • More than ½ of the cubs do not survive the first year
  • Litter size is 1-4 cubs
  • Both males and females reach sexual maturity in 24 months
  • Males live 12-13 years in the wild, females live up to 18 years
  • By killing the dominant male in the pride hunters set off a chain reaction of instinctive behaviors in which a new male takes over the pride and kills all the offspring of the previous dominant male Lion. It is estimated that 6-8 cubs and/or Lioness deaths are the result when a dominant male is killed.

Lions are indicators of an ecosystem’s health.

Lions are considered “vulnerable” on the IUCN’s (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) list of threatened species. The African continent’s Lion population has shrunk by 75% in the last two decades. In the 1960’s an estimated 100,000 lions roamed the savannahs of Africa. Today the numbers of wild and caged are about 32,000. It has been said that when the Rhino problem subsides in 5-10 years, or in 2020, wild Lions will be gone. In Kenya it is estimated that there will be no more Lions left by 2030. When an adult Lion strays out of park boundaries or causes conflict with a farmer or village those farmers will often leave out poisoned meat for Lions to scavenge on. Lions have vanished from 80% of their historic range. Both Kenya and Botswana lose about 100 Lions each year due to human contact.

Most reasons for the population decline is human encroachment, human/Lion conflicts, targeted Lion poaching, and trophy hunting.

In Asia Lion bones have become a popular, imaginary elixir for cures of ailments, known as TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicines). The Tiger is near the brink of extinction due to poaching for its body parts to satisfy the witchery of the Asian culture. Because of the Tiger’s population decrease the Lion has now taken its place. The Lion is not only a sought after trophy but its dried bones are ground into a powder which is thought to have medicinal properties to allegedly cure ulcers, cramp, rheumatism, stomach ache, and malaria. As with the Tiger, the Lion’s sex organs are highly valued as an imaginary aphrodisiac thought to boost virility. These beliefs are medically unfounded by China’s own medical labs.

In South Africa approximately 1,500 Lions are legally killed each year in the name of trophy hunting. A big percentage of these are killed on commercial Lion breeding farms…this is called “canned hunting”. In South Africa there are 123 Lion farmers, as they are called, who raise cub Lions within fenced compounds for 3.5 to 5 years to then be “hunted” by paying “big game hunters”. The Lion will only leave this enclosure once it is booked for a “hunt”. At this point the male Lion is set loose into the wild area for the first time in its life, about 4 days before the scheduled “hunt”. It usually takes big-game professionals about 4 days to track down the Lion, with the trophy hunter following behind on foot. The Lion has been acclimated to humans thus it is often resting under a tree and not alarmed by his predator. If there is concern the farmer may give the Lion a light relaxing tranquilizer. Some of these hunters prefer to shoot the Lion in an enclosure.

After the kill the Lion is skinned out and presented to the “hunter”. He will then pay the farmer $10,000, or more, for his trophy. If the hunter does not want to keep the Lion’s head as a trophy the skull will fetch another $1,000 +, the dried Lion bones will fetch another $165/kg that totals about $5,000 or more. It is a lucrative market but many question the ethics. One Lion farmer recently quit the business saying “what isn’t disgusting about it. It is a bad-taste joke for any real hunter”. Some hunters are preferring a Lioness hunt because she, as a trophy, costs less.

Please share your concern about the majestic Lion with your friends and others.

Awareness is a big part of our saving these species. Help us spread the word globally.

Thank You, We welcome your support and interest.