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Happy World Lion Day!
Common Name: African Lion
Latin Name: Panthera leo
Location: Sub-Saharan Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda)
Conservation Status: Vulnerable
Lions are the only true social cat, living in groups called prides which on average consist of 6 or 7 individuals. All females in a pride are typically related. Males are only dominant over a pride for 2 or 3 years before a young outsider male arrives and fights for dominance. Males from the same litter often stay together and will take over a pride together, resulting in prides with more than one adult male. Previously dominant males who are expelled from a pride will sometimes form loose groups of aging bachelors.
The manes of male lions start to grow at about one year of age and grow thicker, longer, and darker as they mature. They usually have a full mane around 4 to 6 years old. Besides serving as a visual signal on their physical status, the thick mane around the throat also protects from the bites of rival males during combat for territories or mates.
Today there’s only half as many African Lions than there was 25 years ago. Fearing that lions will prey on their livestock ranchers may kill lions both in retaliation and as a preventative measure, sometimes using pesticides as poison. Poachers also hunt lions as their bones and other body parts are valuable in the illegal wildlife trade.
Conservation programs can help humans learn to live with the lions and ensure their survival. For example, the conservation program Lion Guardians have an approach that consists of recruiting young traditional Maasai and other pastoralist warriors to obtain the skills needed to reduce conflicts between humans and wildlife, observe lion populations, and help their own communities co-exist with lions. By actively engaging in a solutions-based conservation model, people who were once lion killers are transformed into lion protectors.
⦁ A lion’s roar can be heard up to five miles away
⦁ Though sometimes called “the king of the jungle” lions only live in grasslands and plains
⦁ A lion may sleep up to 20 hours a day