English: Lion; French: Lion; Africaans: Leeu; Amharic: Anebessa; Arabic: Assad; Bengal: Shingal; Brahui: Rastar; Damara: Yammi; Fulbe: Kaandi; Guzerati: Untiabagh; Herero: Ogeyama; Hausa: Zaki; Hebrew: Arje, Kfir, Lawi; Hindi: Sher, Babar-sher, Singh; Ig bo: Odum; Iranian: Shir; Iswana: Jau; Kashmiri: Suh, Siming; Kiswahili: Simba; Kung: xam, N!haie, nghei; Kwanyama: Onghoshi; Maasai: Olug’atony; Pashto: Ismarei; Shangan: Ngala; Shona: Shumba; Sindebele: Silwana; Sotho: Tau; Tswana: Tau; Tuareg: ahar; Turkish: Arslan; Urdu. Sher babar; Wolof: Gainde: Xhosa: Imbube; Yoruba: Kinium; Zulu: Ingonyama, Ibhubesi.
Former distribution: Africa from the Mediterranean south to the Cape Province, and east to Greece, Macedonia, Arabian Pensinsula to Central India. Not in the Sahara desert, or rain forests.
Present distribution: Senegal, Mali, Sierra Leone, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Angola, Zambia, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe; South Africa: Transvaal and Natal; southern Zaire. Not only in rain forests.
Behaviour: Preferred habitat: grassland, open woodlands, bush and scrub, savannas, semi-desert regions, in both low and higher mountains: prey includes medium big-sized game such as buffalos, zebras, giraffes, antelopes and gazelles, nilgai, deer and domestic cattle, also carrion. They hunt in family groups or singly at twilight, and are both diurnal and nocturnal. They climb trees and occasionally swim. Lions live more gregariously than other big cats. Man-eating lions are known.
Population status: Their distribution areas declined drastically since the beginning of this century, due to the increase of human populations and habitat loss caused by domestic cattle, and sport-hunting (India). In the remaining areas lion populations are stable. Endangered only in India. 180 lions left in the Gir forest, Gujarat State.
Body weight: 150-240 kg
Head and body length: 180-250 cm
Tail length: 60-105 cm
Shoulder height: 80-120 cm
Gestation period: 100-113 days
Maximum age: 13-15 years (30 years in captivity)
Trophy: Skull record CIC: 55.81 points, 1970 Tanzania, A. RACZ; average 50 points. RW’s: 28 3/4″, 1968 R.S.A., J. MACHENJIE; average 24″. SCI: 28 8/16″, 1983 Namibia, JAN OELOFSE; average 25″.
Hunting methods: Stalking, on a kill, with traps.
Subspecies: 7, 6 Afro-tropical region, 1 Indo-Malayan region
1. Panthera l. leo Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt. Extinct.
2. Panthera l. senegalensis Senegal to Nigeria. Endangered.
3. Panthera l. massaicus Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania to Mozambique. Stable.
4. Panthera l. krügeri South Africa: Transvaal and Natal, in national parks. Stable.
5. Panthera l. melanochaita South Africa. Cape Province to Natal. Extinct.
6. Panthera l. bleyenberghi Angola, Katanga, Zimbabwe. Rare.
7. Panthera l. persica North-western India. Gujarat State, Gir forest. Endangered. Estimated numbers: 180; 100 in zoological gardens.
Remarks: It is feared that lion populations will only be safe in national parks and game reserves. Pressures of human populations and overgrazing from domestic and nomadic cattle will increase. This leads to a decline of wild prey. Fortunately the highly endangered Asiatic lion, Panthera l. persica is breeding well in zoos. Approx. 100 are known to be in captivity.