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African Lion (Panthera leo)

African Lion | Panthera leo photo
Lion male
Photograph by Ltshears - Trisha M Shears. License: Public Domain.


The African Lion is a large cat with short tawny brown coats with white underside. The tail is long with a black tuft at the tip. Male lions have distinctive manes. The mane develops after the male is three years old and varies from dark brown to yellowish. The cubs are gray brown with brown spots until about three months old.

Other Names



Length: 240cm - 330m. Tail length: 60cm - 100cm. Height: male 120cm; female 110cm. Weight: males 189 kg average (record 272kg); females 126 kg average.


African plains or savanna with cover, also found in forest, shrubland, mountainous regions, semi-desert.


Lions are predatory carnivores. They usually hunt in groups, and can bring down prey larger than themselves. They eat mainly fairly large mammals such as gazelles, zebras, impalas, wildebeests, cape buffalo, giraffe. Lions also sometimes eat birds, small mammals, fish, eggs, amphibians, reptiles.


Lions live in prides with a single dominant males, other subordinate males, and four to six adult females. Males are competitive, and form alliances with each other to attempt a pride takeover. The leader of the pride usually holds the position for about two years before a takeover. Pride takeover battles are fierce and can result in serious injury or death. The successful male often kills the unweaned cubs of the defeated males. Killing the unweaned cubs brings the females into season sooner so the mal can father his own cubs sooner. Females defend their cubs during a takeover and are sometimes killed. Females give birth to one to six (average three) cubs after a gestation of 3.5 months. The cubs are weaned after 7 - 10 months.


Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Conservation Status

The conservation status in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals is "vulnerable".

Relatives in same Genus
  Asiatic Lion (P. leo persica)
  Jaguar (P. onca)
  Leopard (P. pardus)
  Tiger (P. tigris)

Tiger | Panthera tigris photo
Pair of lions in West Midlands Safari Park
Photograph by Robek. Some rights reserved.
Tiger | Panthera tigris photo
young lion of the Serengeti.
Photograph by Vincenzo Gianferrari Pini. Some rights reserved.
Tiger | Panthera tigris photo
Lion Cubs Playing in the Serengeti
Photograph by David Dennis. Some rights reserved.