African lion king-wide
Panthera leo
(Linnaeus, 1758)
Range Gir Forest, Africa (Most exist in protected area)
Estimated Population Vulnerable
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Carnivora
Family Felidae
Subfamily Pantherinae
Genus Panthera
Species P. leo
Subspecies †P. l. atrox
P. l. leo
P. l. melanochaita
†P. l. sinhaleyus
Conservation Status
(IUCN 3.1)
Lions once roamed wide areas of central southern Europe, India and northern Africa. They are now found only in western India, and semi desert and upland areas of Africa.

Among the largest and most powerful of the cat family, lions are the only cats that regularly hunt together and share the spoils. They live in prides, the females of which are usually related.

Usually about 12-15 animals live and hunt together in a territory that is patrolled by the dominant males. Young males, when pushed out of their family when their father loses control of it, may form a small group for mutual protection until they can established themselves in a pride.

The full-grown male, whose mane ranges in colour from rich golden brown to a deep blackish-brown, marks a lion as the monarch of the plains. The legacy of the lion, king of the beasts, is shown throughout history by its appearance in the earliest drawings over 15,000 years ago.

The females do most of the hunting, co-operating to chase down prey. The male’s job is to defend the pride’s territory from other lions. His tremendous roar can be heard up to 8km (5 miles) away.

Lion was once found from northern Africa through southwest Asia, but has become extinct in most countries within the last 150 years.

Lion prides are often found in the open plains, but occupy nearly all habitats except deep desert and rain forest.


The Romans used to capture lions to fight gladiators in their arena.

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