The lion, Panthera Leo, or the King of the Animal Kingdom, is native to Africa and India. These big cats have compact bodies and muscular forelegs supporting jumping, climbing, and running speeds of around 46 mph. The coat of an adult lion is yellowish-brown, while cubs have light cheetah-like spotting.
Adult males possess shaggy blond, reddish-brown, or black manes. Age and genetics are the determining factors for the lion's mane color and length. The female lion usually lives to 16 years old, while the average male lives to 12 years old.
Lions are the most social of all the felines. They live in groups known as prides. The average pride size is 40 adult cats and cubs. The lionesses raise the cubs and are the pride's primary hunters - working cooperatively to feed the group.
Lions roam in open savannahs or thick brush. However, they are noticeably absent from equatorial areas and rainforests. Most of these graceful felines live in Africa from the south Sahara to northern South Africa. The only exception is a small Indian subspecies population living in northwest India's Gir Forest.
Categorized as a vulnerable population, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates somewhere between 23,000 and 39,000 lions remain in the wild. However, other conservation groups have placed estimates closer to only 20,000.
Tanzania in eastern Africa has the highest number of wild lions worldwide, roughly 14,500. Most of these majestic cats live in Tanzania's National Parks and Preserves. Another country with a significant lion population is South Africa - 3,284 animals.
An estimated 3,063 wild lions can be found in Botswana, while Kenya and Zambia each have approximately 2,500 animals within their borders. The countries of Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Nambia, and Angola have a combined total of 4,600 lions. Other countries with only a few hundred wild cats each include Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Cameroon. The population of Central South Africa has dwindled to roughly 50 lions.
Estimated Lion Population
|Central African Republic||50|
Tanzania in eastern Africa has the highest number of wild lions worldwide. The majority of the big cats live on Tanzania game preserves and parks.