Even the youngest inhabitants of planet Earth have certainly heard about the legendary animals, which is called the “king of beasts”. Of course, it’s the lions, who became the embodiment of agility, strength and nobility.
Unfortunately, several species of these graceful animals have become extinct, but the remaining do cause genuine admiration.
Being the indigenous inhabitants of the African continent, these individuals inspired wild aborigines respect and fear, which is understandable. The indigenous Africans called the lions “wild cats”.
Looks like a lion
The legendary animal is a mammal and belongs to the cat family, genus Panther. Leo really is a big cat type of chordate and belongs to the category of predators.
To most accurately describe the appearance of the animal, the following should be noted:
- Body length of the predator can reach 2.5 meters and weight more than 250 pounds. Such features bring the Leo in second place after tiger.
- Claws can be within 7 inches and are a formidable weapon.
- The head of the beast is quite large with small ears. However, hearing the predator is just gorgeous.
- A special “proud” of the lion are his teeth. This important element of the body can reach 8 inches in length. Only the lion has 30 teeth.
- Small but tough whiskers the cats provide a wonderful sense of smell, able to smell a prey at a very good distance.
Not to mention “chip” that gives the predator the beauty and grace – mane. This gift of nature endowed only males that many females at the withers and weight. Depending on the species, the mane may be of different shape and degree of density. There are some types where the mane has not only in the field of head and neck, but also on the belly. Adult males may have a mane, where the length of the pile is more than 30 inches.
It is important to note peculiarities of the language of the predator, which is very stiff, enabling the animal not only perfectly cope with gross food, but watch out for wool, and also to get rid of all kinds of insects. It should be noted that the skin of a lion is not very thick and a huge number of blood-sucking insects flocks “attack” predator, presenting often a big problem for the “king of beasts”.
Characteristics of the species
At the present day, there are eight major types of lions, each of which has its own characteristics, habitat, and distinctive habits. Depending on the environment in which the predator, formed the manners of the animal, hunting techniques and reproduction.
Description of the types of you can start with the large animals:
- Asiatic (Persian) lion is one of the largest species, the length of which reaches almost three meters and a weight of 200 pounds. Females are slightly lower and lighter. The main area – the Gir sanctuary in India where there are more than 500 individuals.
- Barbary – the largest species of lions, which until the end of the XX century, lived throughout Africa. That individual could reach 300 kilograms and three meters in length. Purebred Barbary lions were destroyed by man. At the moment, in captivity you can see the mixed descendants of the legendary.
- Senegalese predator – most often found in the Western regions of Africa. That individual can weigh more than 200 pounds. Lion features several “non-standard” form of the skull and a very short mane of the male. The animal, in most cases, has a light color.
- Severokavkazskaya cat lives in the North-Eastern savannas of the Congo and differs in the form of the mane in males, which is “combed” several ago. The characteristics of a predator is no different from other types. I must say that the population of these lions are declining sharply.
- Maasai lion can be found on the territory of East African States. I must say that it is a subspecies that differs quite long limbs. The weight of this predator can reach 230 pounds, and the height at the withers – more than a meter.
- Transverse predator species native to southern Africa and the Kalahari desert. A feature of the species is dark, thick mane and impressive size, weighing over 250 kg, and the length of individual specimens can reach over 3 metres.
- The Cape lion was exterminated in the nineteenth century and was distinguished by the dark tips of the ears. In addition, the mane covers the body of the animal not only in the field of head and neck, but also in the shoulders.
- Katanga big cat lives in the Western African States and is an endangered species. The predator features a decent height at the withers – more than 1.2 meters and decent weight more than 250 kg.
It will be unfair not to speak about the white lions, which are not a separate species, as a consequence of the disease, called – racism. In nature such individuals would be extremely difficult to survive, so they can be found only in captivity or in the Kruger national Park.
Among the natives there are legends about the existence of a black lion. However, scientists have recorded a case when the predator was painted in dark brown color. Such isolated cases are the result of mixing. As for the black lion, it is the fact of its existence has not been proven and remains only a legend.
How lions hunt
As should be the predator, lions love the meat, which is the main diet of animals. To answer the question how much weight a Leo, you need to imagine that the predator is able to eat up to 10 kg of meat per day. Hence, quite impressive “weight categories” – from 200 to 300 kg.
The main prey of the lion are almost all animals that are not able to confront the powerful predator.
In different regions of the big cats eat and hunt in different ways:
- Predators in Asia and India prefer boars and deer. However, do not disdain even such a “trifle” like rabbits.
- African lions “love” larger animals such as antelopes, buffaloes, zebras and giraffes.
- Large predator did not hesitate to take the sick or weak animals, even if it’s Cheetah or leopard.
In nature it is difficult to find animals that are able to withstand large and agile predators. Even a large Buffalo in no condition to do anything, if you hunt a pack of lions. To repel the lion single large crocodile, an adult Buffalo and a small pack of hyenas.
Very interesting is the fact that adult males rarely hunt, providing a “honor” to females. However, in case of need, to hunt out all the members of the family. In most cases, hunting can meet males-singles. “Family” lions more idly lie in a shady place, waiting for the results of the hunt.
Not less interesting is the fact that the prey eaten by adult males first, then females, and the remainder goes to the cubs. This rule is so strong that it often happens that females are on the hunt themselves secretly eat small prey, in a large secret from males.
Reproduction and lifestyle
The life of lions takes place in small “families” – a pride that has more than ten individuals. As a rule, the number of flocks is not more than 5-6 females, one or two adult males and cubs. While two males can peacefully tolerate each other within the pride only if they are brothers. Other young males are expelled from the pack, giving you the opportunity to join another pride or create your own.
Large predators no particular mating season, like most other animals.
Lions breed year round and is as follows:
- After fierce fighting between males remains the strongest, which will mate with the female.
- The gestation period lasts 110 days, the female does not participate in the hunt, and childbirth before leaving the pride, going to a secluded place.
- Most often, 2-4 is born blind cub weighing up to 2 kg, which see only in 7-10 days.
- Feeding of the offspring may continue for more than six months.
- Approximately two months of age kittens are involved in the hunt and gradually get used to meat.
It is important to note that the lioness is extremely sensitive to the offspring, systematically changing places, so that the cubs do not become prey for predators. The main enemy of the young lions are hyenas, leopards and cheetahs.
In spite of such honorary title as “king of beasts”, the present population of lions is declining dramatically and many species have already can be found only in captivity or in special reserves. Virtually without natural enemies, the magnificent big cats are victims of poachers and greedy hunters who mercilessly kill predators just for their own pleasure.
It is important to preserve this natural wonder as a lion, who has always admired the man and stirred his imagination with its natural power and beauty!