The Lion

The Lion is the most endangered out of Africa’s three big cats – Lion, Leopard and Cheetah – with fewer than 30,000 remaining on the continent and less than 2,000 in Kenya they are at risk from hunting, habitat loss and diseases that can be spread from domestic dogs in nearby villages.

Lions are large felines that are traditionally depicted as the king of the jungle. These big cats once roamed Africa, Asia and Europe. However, now they are found in only two areas of the world and are classified into two subspecies. Asiatic lions which live in India’s Gir Forest and African lions who live in central and southern Africa. In Kenya, Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and other parts of sub-Saharan Africa they can roam an area of territory covering 100 square miles. This territory mainly consists of scrub, grasslands or open woodlands.

The African lion is 4.5 to 6.5 feet long from its head to its rump, and its tail measures from 26 to 39 inches long – although in the pictures below the Lion had lost its tail – probably in a fight.

African lions typically weigh between 260 and 420 lbs with male lions generally larger than females. They have a distinctive mane of hair around their heads the function of which is to make the male look more impressive to females and more intimidating to other males. The mane also protects the male’s neck during fights over territory or mating rights.

African lions eat large animals that they find in the grasslands, including antelopes, zebras and wildebeest or as in the photos below Rhino and while the females – seen at the bottom of this post – are the primary hunter a lone male can and will hunt by itself. How the rhino came to be the lions prey is unknown. Possibly it was an old and/or ill rhino that succumbed to the lion attack or, as has been pointed out due to the lack of rhino horn visible, it may have been the carcass left after poachers killed it but I can’t confirm either way.

 

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Female lions, all members of the same pride, lie in the sun grooming themselves and each other after eating their fill on the carcass of the rhino.

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Images copyright Ian Forsyth

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No usage without arrangement.

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