Lion: Panthera leo Male:
total length 2,5 – 33 m ; tail 1,0 m ; shoulder height 1,2 m ; mass 150 – 225 kg Female:
total length 2,3 – 2,7 m ; tail 1,0 m ; shoulder height 1,0 m: mass 110 – 152 kg .Lion Identification pointers: Large size; usually uniform tawny color; Lion males with long mane; dark-tipped tail. Cannot be confused with any other species.Description: Largest of the African cats and adult male Lions and female Lions are easy to tell apart. Body color ranges from reddish-grey to pale tawny with lighter under parts. Although faint spots are present on the sides of cubs these are usually lost by adulthood. Tail is short-haired and same color as rest of body but has a dark tip. Only the adult male carries a mane of long hair, extending from the sides of the face on to the neck, shoulders and chest. Mane color ranges from pale tawny to black. White’ lions from the Transvaal Lowveld are not true albinos but are genetic variants with strongly reduced pigmentation.Distribution: In the recent past occurred throughout sub region but now only in northern and eastern areas. It is largely restricted to the major conservation areas. Reintroduced to Hluhluwe and Umfolozi game reserves in Natal . Lions once occurred widely in parts of Europe, Asia, the Middle East and throughout most of Africa . They now have a patchy distribution in Africa and are only found south of the Sahara , excluding the equatorial forest regions. Habitat: The Lion has a very wide habitat tolerance, from desert fringe to woodland or open savanna, but is absent from equatorial forest.
It is the most sociable member of the cat family, living in prides of 3 – 30 individuals. Pride size varies according to the area and prey availability. In Botswana prides usually 6 or fewer individuals, whereas average pride size in Kruger National Park is about 12. Prides normally consist of from 1 to 4 adult males, several adult females (one of which is dominant) and a number of sub adults and cubs. A pride area-or territory is defended against strange Lions by both the males and females but some prides and solitary males are nomadic. Territories are marked by urine, droppings and by earth-scratching. The mighty roars of the Lion — audible over several kilometers — also serve to indicate that an area is occupied. Most of their activity takes place at night and during the cooler daylight hours. The females undertake most of the hunting, and despite the fact that the males play little part in most kills they feed before the females. Cubs compete for what remains once the adults have finished their meal.
Although the Lion is mainly a hunter of medium to large-sized mammals, particularly ungulates, it will take anything from mice to young elephant as well as a wide range of non-mammalian prey. It also scavenges and often chases other predators from their kills.
No fixed breeding season; 1-4, (occasionally 6) cubs each weighing about 1,5 kg are born after gestation of 110 days. Lioness gives birth under cover, only returning to pride when cubs are 4-8 weeks old. However, she will only rejoin the pride if there are no cubs older than 3 months already present. As a lioness allows any pride cub to suckle, the presence of older cubs would prevent younger cubs from obtaining milk. Cubs may remain with the mother for two years or longer.
Unless provoked Lion will rarely attack humans but it is useful to know the warning signs: an angry Lion will drop into a crouch, flatten its ears and give vent to growls and grunts, meanwhile flicking the tail-tip rapidly from side to side. Just prior to a charge the tail is usually jerked up and down.(source: Stuart)