The lion is a species of the class of mammals. Belongs to the group of carnivorous cats. More than a dozen subspecies of lions are known. They differ from each other in the shape of the mane, size, etc. Lions live in savannas and steppes. The main prey object is the representatives of ungulates.
Lions keep in large groups, hunt collectively. Males can help them either fill up large prey, or with their roar drive frightened animals to an ambush, where lionesses are waiting for them.
Lions are characterized by the presence of sexual dimorphism. Male lions have a mane that can vary in color and range from light to dark shades. The tail is crowned with a tassel. The fur is short. The heaviest lion was killed in 1936 in the Transvaal. Its weight was 313 kilograms.
The average weight of males is 170-185 kilograms. The average weight of lionesses is 120-125 kilograms. The body length of a male lion (excluding the length of the tail), as a rule, does not exceed two meters and averages 180 centimeters. The tail length varies from 90 to 105 centimeters. The body length of lionesses is on average 150 centimeters. The tail length ranges from 70 to 100 centimeters. Males sometimes arrange real fights for females. They often end with the death of one of the lions.
In lions, food intake is strictly regulated: the dominant male eats first, the rest follow him, the lion cubs eat last. Surprisingly, lions sleep up to twenty hours a day. Various hybrids of lions and other representatives of the panther genus are known. Many of the hybrids are capable of breeding and interbreeding with males of the original species. All hybrids of lions with other representatives of the genus Panther (ligers, tigrols, leopon, yaguli) appear only in captivity. The lion is an important symbol in mythology.
Lions are relatively safe for humans - among them, cannibals are extremely rare. On the contrary, lions bring benefits to humans, for example, in those countries where there are especially many lions and ecotourism is developed. Ecotourism brings considerable income to such countries.
Lions are characterized by sexual dimorphism. This means that adult lions differ in external structure from each other depending on gender (by the way, this feature is not inherent in all predators). Adult lionesses are much smaller than males and differ from them in the absence of a mane. Male lions are endowed with a mane, the color of which varies from light shades to dark ones. There is an opinion that, depending on the color of the mane, one can judge the character of the lion. Lions with a light mane are more docile and docile (and also a little silly), compared to lions with a dark mane.
Lions are endowed with short fur. On the belly of a lion, the color of the fur is almost white. And on top it varies from light sandy to reddish brown. There is a small tassel at the tip of the lion's tail.
The weight of male lions is one third greater than the weight of females. More precisely, by 20-27%. The weight of males can range from 150 to 225 kilograms. On average, it is 170-185 kilograms. Whereas the weight of the female varies from 100 to 150 kilograms and averages 120-125 kilograms. Known data on the shot lion, whose weight was equal to 272 kilograms. The heaviest slain lion in history is the lion from the Transvaal. He was killed in 1936 and weighed 313 kilograms. Was listed in the Guinness Book of Records.
Captive lions are usually the largest in size. The lion's record weight was recorded in 1970 at the London Zoo. He made 375 kilograms. The record length of the lion is approximately 330 centimeters.
The size of the Indian lion is smaller than the African one. This is a misleading impression that may arise due to some external features of the Asian subspecies of ice. Namely: the Indian lion has a more squat body, the mane is less dense and quite tight to the body. The mass of representatives of this subspecies, as a rule, varies from 110 to 120 kilograms, if we are talking about a lioness, and from 160 to 190 kilograms, if we are talking about a male. The record weight among females is about 150 kilograms. The record weight among males is about 220 kilograms. The record length is 2.92 meters.
Gir Forest is the last refuge of Indian lions. Until the middle of the twentieth century, this was not at all the case - the Asiatic (Indian) lion inhabited Gujarat, Punjab, and even met in West Bengal. According to data for 1969, 177 Indian lions remained on the Kathiyavar Peninsula in western India. Outside this peninsula, Asiatic lions have not been found for a long time - the last of them was killed at the end of the nineteenth century - in 1884. In the southwest of Kathiyawar, there is the Gir forest, which covers an area of approximately 125 thousand hectares. It is famous for the fact that back in 1900 the Indian lions living in it were taken under the protection of the state. In our time, the Indian lion has survived only in the Gir reserve.
The lion's lifestyle is typical of all big cats. This is not true. Lions form large groups, the so-called prides, i.e. do not live alone. Usually one pride includes several females, from one to three males and lion cubs of both sexes. The role of males is to protect the territory. Role of the female in babysitting and hunting. Some prides are characterized by specialization in one of the types of loot. The male's daily diet includes up to eighteen kilograms of meat. Although other sources even indicate a corresponding value of thirty-one kilograms.
The collective lifestyle is the basis of hunting. Since the victims of lions are animals of both medium and large size, a collective "distribution of responsibilities" helps to cope with them. Lionesses disagree on separate positions, among them there are beater lionesses. The latter are approaching potential production at an extremely short distance. The next stage of the hunt is the jump. Its purpose is to send the victim into an ambush, where several individuals are waiting for it. The role of the male is reduced to help in the event that brute force is needed in the fight against large prey (it can be buffalo or giraffe). Hunting tactics at night are significantly different from those described above. Lionesses silently surround the herd under cover of night. Sometimes males interfere in this hunt. With their loud roar, they drive the animals to the place where lionesses are waiting for them in ambush.
Zebras and wildebeest are the lions' preferred food. When there are many of these animals, the representatives of the lion species feed mainly on them. Typically, a lion eats once every 2-3 days. True, in the absence of food, lions can do without it for several weeks. Hunger poses a serious threat to the population at a time when herds of animals begin their seasonal migration. There are times when a lioness with small cubs is forced to remain alone, because her pride leaves along with herds migrating across the plains.
Lions' food intake is strictly regulated. First of all, the victim's heart is eaten, as well as the kidneys and liver. Only after that the meat is eaten together with the skin. The main male eats first. This happens even if the dominant male did not take part in the hunt at all. If there is a lot of prey or the main lion is not very hungry, then the other lions-members of the pride can also take part in the feast. Otherwise, the "minor" members of the pride have no choice but to wait for the dominant lion to be satisfied. The lion cubs are the last to eat. Often the main male, having eaten, makes sure that the cubs also have at least something left. If food is abundant, then the lion eats up to the dump, after which it immediately becomes sleepy and falls asleep in small islets of shade. If there is anything left of the carcass, then after the lion falls asleep, vultures, hyenas and jackals gather from her. Lions sleep twenty hours a day.
The mating of lions is accompanied by a tender relationship between partners. At the expiration of three months after mating, the pregnant female moves away from her pride. The lioness picks up a secluded corner where her cubs are born. Lion cubs are born completely helpless and blind. Cubs have a spotted skin, which becomes monotonous as they grow up. It is very rare to find an adult lion with characteristic "childish" spots. Of the offspring, as a rule, no more than half of the cubs survive. Lioness milk serves as food for lion cubs from birth until they reach the age of 6-7 months. Then the lion cubs eat only meat. Cubs join the pride at about two months of age. Leo becomes an adult at the age of five. By this time, he is gaining his optimal size.
Lions have special dominance rituals. The dominant lion marks the territorial boundaries of his pride. A loud roar also indicates that the territory belongs to a particular lion. The reason for this behavior and the exclusion of other lions from their pride, most likely, is the desire of the dominant lion to protect his females from attempts by other males. The territory of the pride is the hunting area of lions. If by any means a lion shows interest in someone else's territory, then this indicates a war, the lionesses, in turn, also drive away other people's females, preventing them from joining the pride.
There are lions with white coloration. In white lions, the production of melanin pigment is significantly reduced, which is caused by the manifestation of a recessive gene. The color of these lions ranges from white to creamy beige. White lions often have blue eyes due to the same low level of melanin pigment. In our time, only about three hundred representatives of white lions live in the world. There are even certain programs aimed at preserving this type of color. However, this kind of color does not bring any benefit to white lions, rather, on the contrary, it hurts, since it unmasks them when hunting. In response to the question where the white color came from, there is an assumption that the corresponding gene was preserved from distant ancestors.
Various hybrids of lions and other representatives of the panther genus are known. These are liger, tigrolev, leopon, yagulev.
The liger is a hybrid of a lion and a tigress. Describing its appearance, we can say that the liger resembles a very large lion, endowed with blurred stripes. Males have a short mane. The liger is the largest of all modern cats. Females of this hybrid can produce offspring by crossing with males of the original species.
Tigers are a hybrid of a lioness and a tiger. Tigers can have stripes (inherited from the father) and spots (inherited from the mother) on the body. Some male tigers have short manes. Females are capable of breeding and interbreeding with males of the original species. The size of tigers is usually no larger than the size of the parents. The average weight is 150 kilograms.
Leopon is a hybrid of a lioness and a leopard. In appearance, the leopon is similar to a small spotted lion. Leopolds are larger than leopards, but smaller than lions. The tail of leopons has a small tassel at its end. In addition, male leopons have a short mane.
Jagulyov is a hybrid of a lioness and a jaguar. Yagulev has a spotted skin. It is similar in appearance to a leopon.
All of the above hybrids of individuals of lions with other representatives of the genus.
Panthers appear only in captivity. This is due to the fact that representatives of different species have the opportunity to get used to each other in close proximity, while in the natural environment such crosses are almost impossible due to the behavioral and geographic isolation of the species.
Lion is the king of the animals. In Europe, the lion is associated as a symbol of power. This symbol combines the power of the sun and fire. In heraldry, the lion is a symbol of royal nobility and dignity.
The Chinese lion is a mythologized image. It has existed since ancient times in the countries of Southeast Asia. With a real lion, he has little in common. But he resembles a certain mythical creature very easily. If you think in accordance with the beliefs of ancient China, the lion presents itself as a mythical protector of the Law. Leo also acts as a guardian of sacred structures. Success and power have always been associated with the lion. In imperial China, lion figures stood guard at the gates of administrative buildings, government residences, imperial tombs, and religious buildings.
The lion is an important symbol in mythology. For example, in Egypt, the lion is a symbol of royal dignity and divine authority. The depiction of some goddesses is somehow connected with lions: the goddess Sekhmet was depicted as a woman endowed with the head of a lioness; the goddess Bast is like a woman with the head of a cat or directly like a cat (and her initial image is a lioness). The Greeks and Assyrians considered lions as companions of the goddesses. Some creatures in mythology are only partially lions. For example, the Griffin. This creature is half lion and half eagle. It is worth noting the fact that the Griffin is a fairly popular image, since it can often be found in literature, heraldry, sculpture, and even now in computer games. Chimera is another mythological creature. The neck and head of the chimera in Greece were depicted as lions; this creature was endowed with the body of a goat and the tail of a dragon. The famous mythical creature is the Sphinx. It is endowed with the body and legs of a lion, the head of a woman and the wings of an eagle.
Adults are invulnerable to predators. This is practically the case. Old and young representatives of lions, and, of course, the youngest specimens - lion cubs can be relatively defenseless against spotted hyenas. The most dangerous for lions is hunger during the absence of food or a skirmish with another lion, which may occur as a result of, for example, competition for food. By the way, such competition is possible with other predators such as cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, etc. Lions usually win this competition. Interestingly, hyenas are quite easily inferior to prey only to a large lion. From a lioness, hyenas may well take their prey themselves.
Man is an important danger to lions. Even in national parks, representatives of the species of lions are constantly being destroyed by humans, and in some countries of the African continent, hunting for lions is not prohibited by law - their meat is used for food. Rifle shots are not the only source of extermination of lions. People also use arrows, invent traps. A good way is to use poison baits. As a rule, a poisoned carcass is used in the role of the latter. However, direct killing of lions is far from the only harm that can be done to lions.
As a result of the development of cattle breeding and agriculture, the historical habitat of this species has significantly decreased. Human activity led to the fact that lions (like many other predators) were forced to look for new territories that at that time had not yet been mastered by humans. Even now, on the African continent, lions live mainly only in hunting reserves, while about a century and a half ago, individuals of this species inhabited all of Africa south of the Sahara Desert.In our time, the lion population in the western part of the African continent is steadily declining. Apparently, everything is going to ensure that the lion remains only in the southern and eastern parts of this continent.
The boundaries of the reserves are a place of conflict between a lion and a man. Relatively simple measures can reduce the consequences of this conflict. For example, a live wire fence. This is done to eliminate the possibility of lions entering the settlements near the reserve. What happens to lions who still overcome such obstacles? It all depends on the purpose of such an "act". If an adult lion thus sought to expand the boundaries of his pride, then, if possible, they try to bring him back. After that, the lion will no longer try to repeat his experiment. However, if we are talking about a young lion that penetrates the fence in order to indulge in the killing of cattle, then such a lion can be stopped simply by returning to the reserve. On the African continent, where the population specializes in breeding cattle, they are trying to seize such lions.
Lions are dangerous to humans. Not entirely true statement. In fact, even if a lion has made its way to settlements, attacks on a person are extremely and extremely rare - usually they are old or wounded lions. Doomed to death by starvation, they can become cannibals. As a rule, having met a person, the lions themselves leave. In addition, in places where there are many tourists and tourists, lions often do not even bother themselves. They calmly go about their business or relax.
Lions can carry the feline immunodeficiency virus. This virus, similar to HIV, can infect even domestic cats and is fatal to them. Although for lions, apparently, the feline immunodeficiency virus does not pose a serious danger. A significant part of the populations of this species are infected with this virus. Thus, the natural focus of such an infection is constantly maintained.
IUCN took lions under protection. The International Union for Conservation of Nature protects the existing lion populations. The Asiatic lion is listed in the Red Book. Its status is endangered. When the lion population could no longer self-renew due to its small number, artificial insemination was used in some reserves in Africa. Lions give offspring well in captivity. Thus, some zoos have created their own population of the Indian lion. It is used to maintain the number of Indian lions in their natural environment.