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Temporal range: Early Pleistocene tae recent
Lion waiting in Namibia.jpg
Okonjima Lioness.jpg
Female (lioness)
Conservation status
Scienteefic clessification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Genus: Panthera
Species: P. leo
Binomial name
Panthera leo
(Linnaeus, 1758)[3]
Lion distribution.png
Map Guj Nat Parks Sanctuary.png
Distribution o lions in Indie: The Gir Forest, in Gujarat, is the last naitural range o aboot 400 wild Asiatic lions. There are plans tae reintroduce some lions tae Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh.
Felis leo
Linnaeus, 1758[3]

The lion (Panthera leo) is ane o the fower big cats in the genus Panthera an a memmer o the faimily Felidae. Wi some males exceedin 250 kg (550 lb) in wicht,[4] it is the seicont-lairgest livin cat efter the tiger. Wild lions currently exist in sub-Saharan Africae an in Asie, wi an endangered remnant population in Gir Forest Naitional Pairk in Indie, haein disappeared frae North Africae an Soothwast Asie in historic times. Till the late Pleistocene, aboot 10,000 years ago, the lion wis the maist widespread lairge laund mammal efter humans. Thay wur foond in maist o Africae, athort Eurasie frae wastren Europe tae Indie, an in the Americas frae the Yukon tae Peru.[5] The lion is a vulnerable species, haein seen a major population decline o 30–50% ower the past twa decades[date missin] in its African range.[2] Lion populations are untenable ootside designatit reserves an naitional pairks. Awtho the cause o the decline is no fully unnerstuid, habitat loss an conflicts wi humans are currently the greatest causes o concern. Athin Africae, the Wast African lion population is pairticularly endangered.

Lions live for 10–14 years in the wild, awtho in captivity thay can live mair nor 20 years. In the wild, males seldom live langer than 10 years, as injuries sustained frae continual fechtin wi rival males greatly reduce thair longevity.[6] Thay teepically inhabit savanna an grassland, awtho thay mey tak tae bush an forest. Lions are unusually social compared tae ither cats. A pride o lions consists o relatit females an affspring an a smaw nummer o adult males. Groups o female lions teepically hunt thegither, preying maistly on lairge ungulates. Lions are apex an keystone predators, awtho thay are an aa expert scavengers obtainin ower 50 percent o thair fuid bi scavengin as opportunity allows. While lions dae nae teepically hunt humans, some hae been kent tae dae sae. Sleeping mainly during the day, lions are primarily nocturnal, awtho bordering on crepuscular in naitur.[7][8]

Highly distinctive, the male lion is easily recognised bi its mane, an its face is ane o the maist widely recognised animal seembols in human culture. Depictions hae existit frae the Upper Paleolithic period, wi carvings an pentins frae the Lascaux an Chauvet Caves, throu virtually aw ancient an medieval culturs whaur thay ance occurred. It haes been extensively depicted in sculptures, in pentins, on naitional banners, an in contemporary films an literature. Lions hae been kept in menageries syne the time o the Roman Empire, an hae been a key species sought for exhibition in zoos ower the warld syne the late eighteenth century. Zoos are cooperatin warldwide in breedin programs for the endangered Asiatic subspecies.

Etymology[eedit | eedit soorce]

The lion's name, seemilar in mony Romance languages, is derived frae the Latin leo,[9] an the Ancient Greek λέων (leon).[10] The Hebrew wird לָבִיא (lavi) mey an aa be relatit.[11] It wis ane o the species oreeginally describit bi Linnaeus, who gae it the name Felis leo, in his aichteent-century wirk, Systema Naturae.[3]

Characteristics[eedit | eedit soorce]

A skeletal moont o an African Lion attackin a Common Eland on display at The Museum o Osteology, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Behind anly the tiger, the lion is the seicont lairgest livin felid in lenth an wecht. Its skull is very seemilar tae that o the teeger, awtho the frontal region is uisually mair depressed an flattened, wi a slichtly shorter postorbital region. The lion's skull haes broader nasal openings than the tiger, houiver, due tae the amoont o skull variation in the twa species, uisually, anly the structur o the lawer jaw can be uised as a reliable indicator o species.[12] Lion colouration varies frae licht buff tae yellowish, reddish, or dark ochraceous broun. The underparts are generally lighter an the tail tuft is black. Lion cubs are born wi broun rosettes (spots) on thair body, rather lik those o a leopard. Awtho these fade as lions reach adulthuid, faint spots eften mey still be seen on the legs an underparts, parteecularly on lionesses.

Lions are the snly members o the cat faimily tae display obvious sexual dimorphism – that is, males an females leuk distinctly different. Thay an aa hae specialised roles that each gender plays in the pride. For instance, the lioness, the hunter, lacks the male's thick mane. The colour o the male's mane varies frae blond tae black, generally acomin darker as the lion grows aulder. The maist distinctive characteristic shared bi baith females an males is that the tail ends in a hairy tuft. In some lions, the tuft conceals a haurd "spine" or "spur", approximately 5 mm lang, formed o the final sections o tail bane fused thegither. The lion is the anly felid tae hae a tufted tail – the function o the tuft an spine are unkent. Absent at birth, the tuft develops aroond 5½ months o age an is readily identifiable at 7 months.[13]

The size o adult lions varies across thair range wi those frae the soothren African populations in Zimbabwe, the Kalahari an Kruger Park averagin aroond 189.6 kg (418 lb) an 126.9 kg (280 lb) in males an females respectively compared tae 174.9 kg (386 lb) an 119.5 kg (263 lb) o male an female lions frae East Africae.[14] Reported body measurements in males are heid-body lenths rangin frae 170 to 250 cm (5 ft 7 in to 8 ft 2 in), tail lenths o 90–105 cm (2 ft 11 in–3 ft 5 in). In females reportit heid-body lenths range frae 140 to 175 cm (4 ft 7 in to 5 ft 9 in), tail lenths o 70–100 cm (2 ft 4 in–3 ft 3 in),[4] houiver, the frequently cited maximum heid an body lenth o 250 cm (8 ft 2 in) fits rather tae extinct Pleistocene forms, lik the American lion, wi even lairge modren lions meisurin several centimetres less in lenth.[15] Record measurements frae huntin records are supposedly a tot lenth o nearly 3.6 m (12 ft) for a male shot near Mucsso, soothren Angola in October 1973 an a wecht o 313 kg (690 lb) for a male shot ootside Hectorspruit in eastren Transvaal, South Africa in 1936.[16] Anither notably outsized male lion, which wis shot near Mount Kenya, weighed in at 272 kg (600 lb).[17]

Mane[eedit | eedit soorce]

During agonistic confrontations wi ither lions, the mane maks the lion appear lairger.

The mane o the adult male lion, unique amang cats, is ane o the maist distinctive characteristics o the species. It mey provide an excellent intimidation display; aiding the lion during confrontations wi ither lions.[18] The presence, absence, colour, an size o the mane is associatit wi genetic precondition, sexual maturity, climate, an testosterone production; the rule o thumb is the darker an fuller the mane, the healthier the lion. Sexual selection o mates bi lionesses favors males wi the densest, darkest mane.[19] Research in Tanzania an aa suggests mane lenth signals fechtin success in male–male relationships. Darker-maned individuals mey hae langer reproductive lives an higher affspring survival, awtho thay suffer in the hettest months o the year.[20]

A maneless lion.

Scientists ance believed that the distinct status o some subspecies could be juistified bi morphology, includin the size o the mane. Morphology wis uised tae identify subspecies such as the Barbary lion an Cape lion. Research haes suggested, houiver, that environmental factors influence the colour an size o a lion's mane, such as the ambient temperatur.[20] The cuiler ambient temperatur in European an North American zoos, for example, mey result in a heavier mane. Thus the mane is nae an appropriate marker for identifyin subspecies.[21][22] The males o the Asiatic subspecies, houiver, are characterised bi sparser manes than average African lions.[23]

In the Pendjari National Park aurie awmaist aw males are maneless or hae very weak manes.[24] Maneless male lions hae an aa been reportit frae Senegal, frae Sudan (Dinder National Park), an frae Tsavo East National Park in Kenya, an the oreeginal male white lion frae Timbavati an aa wis maneless. The testosterone hormone haes been linked tae mane growth, therefore castrated lions eften hae minimal tae no mane, as the removal o the gonads inhibits testosterone production.[25]

Cave pentins o extinct European cave lions awmaist exclusively shaw animals wi no manes, suggesting that either thay war maneless,[26] or that the pentins depict lionesses as seen huntin in a group.

White lions[eedit | eedit soorce]

White lions owe thair colouring tae a recessive allele; thay are rare forms o the subspecies Panthera leo krugeri

The white lion is nae a distinct subspecies, but a special morph wi a genetic condeetion, leucism,[27] that causes paler colouration akin tae that o the white teeger; the condeetion is seemilar tae melanism, which causes black panthers. Thay are nae albinos, haein normal pigmentation in the ees an skin. White Transvaal lion (Panthera leo krugeri) individuals occasionally hae been encountered in an aroond Kruger Naitional Pairk an the adjacent Timbavati Private Game Reserve in eastren Sooth Africae, but are mair commonly foond in captivity, whaur breeders deliberately select them. The unusual cream colour o thair coats is due tae a recessive allele.[28] Reportedly, thay hae been bred in camps in South Africa for uise as trophies tae be killed during canned hunts.[29]

Behaviour[eedit | eedit soorce]

Adult male lion stretching.

Lions spend much o thair time restin an are inactive for aboot 20 oors per day.[30] Awtho lions can be active at ony time, thair activity generally peaks efter dusk wi a period o socialisin, gruimin, an defecatin. Intermittent bursts o activity follae throu the nicht oors until dawn, when huntin maist eften taks place. Thay spend an average o twa oors a day walkin an 50 minutes eatin.[31]

Group organization[eedit | eedit soorce]

Twa lionesses and a mature male o a pride.
Twa males and a female lion.

Lions are the maist socially inclined o aw wild felids, maist o which remain quite solitary in naitur. The lion is a predatory carnivore wi twa types o social organization. Some lions are residents, livin in groups centering aroond relatit lionesses, cried prides.[32] Females form the stable social unit in a pride an dae nae tolerate ootside females.[33] Membership anly chynges wi the births an daiths o lionesses,[34] awtho some females dae leave an acome nomadic.[35] Awtho extremely lairge prides, consistin o up tae 30 individuals, hae been observed, the average pride consists o five or sax females, thair cubs o baith sexes, an ane or twa males (kent as a coalition if mair nor ane) who mate wi the adult females. The nummer o adult males in a coalition is uisually twa but mey increase tae as mony as fower afore decreasing again ower time.[35] The sole exception tae this pattern is the Tsavo lion pride which always haes juist ane adult male.[36] Male cubs are excluded frae thair maternal pride when thay reach maturity at aroond 2–3 years o age.[35] The seicont organizational behaviour is labeled nomads, who range widely an move aboot sporadically, either singularly or in pairs.[32] Pairs are mair frequent amang relatit males who hae been excluded frae thair birth pride. Note that a lion mey switch lifestyles; nomads mey acome residents an vice versa. Males, as a rule, live at least some portion o thair lives as nomads, an some are never able tae join anither pride. A female who becomes a nomad haes much greater difficulty joining a new pride, as the females in a pride are relatit, an thay reject maist attempts bi an unrelated female tae join thair faimily group.

The aurie a pride occupies is cried a pride area, whauras that bi a nomad is a range.[32] The males associated wi a pride tend tae stay on the fringes, patrolling thair territory. Why sociality – the maist pronoonced in ony cat species – haes developed in lionesses is the subject o much debate. Increased huntin success appears an obvious reason, but this is less nor sure upon examination: coordinated huntin daes allou for mair successful predation but an aa ensures that non-huntin members reduce per capita calorific intake; houiver, some tak a role raising cubs, who mey be left alone for extended periods o time. Members o the pride regularly tend tae play the same role in hunts an hone thair skills. The heal o the hunters is the primary need for the survival o the pride, an thay are the first tae consume the prey at the site it is taken. Ither benefits include possible kin selection (better tae share fuid wi a relatit lion than wi a stranger), pertection o the young, maintenance o territory, an individual insurance against injury an hunger.[17]

Video o a wild lioness

Lionesses dae maist o the huntin for thair pride. Thay are mair effective hunters, as thay are smawer, swifter, an mair agile than the males an unencumbered bi the hivy an conspicuous mane, which causes overheating during exertion. Thay act as a coordinated group wi members who perform the same role consistently in order tae stalk an bring doun the prey successfully. Smawer prey is eaten at the location o the hunt, tharebi bein shared amang the hunters; when the kill is lairger it eften is dragged tae the pride aurie. Thare is mair sharin o lairger kills,[37] awtho pride members eften behave aggressively toward each ither as each tries tae consume as much fuid as possible. Near the conclusion o the hunt, males hae a tendency tae dominate the kill ance the lionesses hae succeeded. Thay are mair likely tae share this wi the cubs than wi the lionesses, but males rarely share fuid thay hae killed bi themselves.

Baith males an females can defend the pride against intruders, but the male lion is better-suited for this purpose due tae its stockier, mair powerful big.[38] Some individuals consistently lead the defence against intruders, while others lag behind.[39] Lions tend tae assume specific roles in the pride. Those lagging behind mey provide ither valuable services tae the group.[40] An alternative hypothesis is that thare is some reward associated wi bein a leader who fends off intruders, an the rank o lionesses in the pride is reflected in these responses.[41] The male or males associated wi the pride must defend thair relationship tae the pride frae ootside males who attempt tae tak ower thair relationship wi the pride.

Hunting and diet[eedit | eedit soorce]

Lion teeth are teepical o a carnivore.

Lions prefer tae scavenge when the opportunity presents itself[42] wi carrion providin mair nor 50% o thair diet.[43] Thay scavenge animals either dead frae natural causes (disease) or killed bi ither predators, an keep a constant lookout for circling vultures, bein keenly aware that thay indicate an animal dead or in distress.[42] In fact, maist dead prey on which baith hyenas an lions feed upon are killed bi the hyenas instead o the lions.[4]

The lionesses dae maist o the huntin for the pride. The male lion associated wi the pride uisually stays an watches ower young cubs until the lionesses return frae the hunt. teepically, several wirk thegither an encircle the herd frae different pynts. Ance thay hae closed in on the herd, thay uisually target the animal closest tae them. The attack is short an powerful; thay attempt tae catch the victim wi a fast rush an final leap. The prey uisually is killed bi strangulation,[44] which can cause cerebral ischemia or asphyxia (which results in hypoxemic, or "general", hypoxia). The prey an aa mey be killed bi the lion enclosing the animal's mooth an nostrils in its jaws (which would an aa result in asphyxia).[4]

Lions uisually hunt in coordinated groups an stalk thair chosen prey. Houiver, thay are nae parteecularly kent for thair stamina – for instance, a lioness' hert maks up anly 0.57% o her body wecht (a male's is aboot 0.45% o his body wecht), whauras a hyena's hert is close tae 1% o its body wecht.[45] Thus, thay anly run fast in short bursts,[46] an need tae be close tae thair prey afore stairtin the attack. Thay tak advantage o factors that reduce visibility; mony kills tak place near some form o cover or at nicht.[47] Thay sneak up tae the victim until thay reach a distance o approximately 30 metres (98 feet) or less.

Lioness in a burst o speed while huntin.

The prey consists mainly o medium-sized mammals, wi a preference for wildebeest, zebras, buffalo, an warthogs in Africa an nilgai, wild boar, an several deer species in Indie. Mony ither species are huntit, based on availability, mainly ungulates weighing atween 50 and 300 kg (110 and 660 lb) such as kudu, hartebeest, gemsbok, an eland.[4] Occasionally, thay tak relatively smaw species such as Thomson's gazelle or springbok. Lions huntin in groups are capable o takin doun maist animals, even healthy adults, but in maist pairts o thsir range thay rarely attack very lairge prey such as fully grown male giraffes due tae the danger o injury. Giraffes an buffaloes are awmaist invulnerable tae a solitary lion as well.[48]

Extensive studies shaw that lionesses normally prey on mammals wi an average wecht o 126 kg (278 lb), while kills made bi male lions average 399 kg (880 lb).[49] In Africa, wildebeest rank at the tap o preferred prey (makin nearly hauf o the lion prey in the Serengeti) followed bi zebra.[50] Lions dae nae prey on fully grown adult elephants; maist adult hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses, an smawer gazelles, impala, an ither agile antelopes are generally excluded. Houiver, giraffes an buffaloes are eften taken in certain regions. For instance, in Kruger National Park, giraffes are regularly huntit.[51] In Manyara Park, Cape buffaloes constitute as much as 62% o the lion's diet,[52] due tae the heich nummer density o buffaloes. Occasionally hippopotamus is an aa taken, but adult rhinoceroses are generally avoided. Warthogs are eften taken dependin on availability.[53] The lions o Savuti, Botswana, hae adapted tae huntin young elephants during the dry saison, an a pride o 30 lions haes been recorded killin individuals atween the ages o fower an eleven years.[54] In the Kalahari desert in South Africa, black-maned lions mey chase baboons up a tree, wait patiently, then attack them when thay try tae escape:

Baboons trapped up a tree bi lions.

Lions an aa attack domestic livestock an in Indie cattle contribute significantly tae thair diet.[23] Lions are capable o killin ither predators such as leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, an wild dogs, tho (unlik maist felids) thay seldom devour the competitors efter killin them. A lion mey gorge itself an eat up tae 30 kg (66 lb) in ane sitting;[55] if it is unable tae consume aw the kill it will rest for a few oors afore consuming mair. On a het day, the pride mey retreat tae shade leaving a male or twa tae staund guard.[56] An adult lioness requires an average o aboot 5 kg (11 lb) o meat per day, a male aboot 7 kg (15 lb).[57]

Four lionesses catch a cape buffalo.

Acause lionesses hunt in open spaces whaur thay are easily seen bi thair prey, cooperative huntin increases the likelihood o a successful hunt; this is especially true wi lairger species. Teamwork an aa enables them tae defend thair kills mair easily against ither lairge predators such as hyenas, which mey be attracted bi vultures frae kilometres away in open savannas. Lionesses dae maist o the huntin; males attached tae prides dae nae uisually participate in huntin, except in the case o lairger quarry such as giraffe an buffalo. In teepical hunts, each lioness haes a favored poseetion in the group, either stalking prey on the "wing" then attacking, or moving a smawer distance in the centre o the group an capturing prey in flight frae ither lionesses.[58] Thare is evidence that male lions are juist as successful at huntin as females; thay are solo hunters who ambush prey in smaw bush.[59] Young lions first display stalking behaviour aroond three months o age, awtho thay dae nae participate in huntin until thay are awmaist a year auld. Thay begin tae hunt effectively when nearing the age o twa.[60]

Predator competition[eedit | eedit soorce]

Subadult male lion and spotted hyena

Lions an spotted hyenas occupy the same ecological niche, meanin thay compete for prey an carrion in the auries whaur thay coexist. A review o data across several studies indicates a dietary owerlap o 58.6%.[61] Lions teepically ignore spotted hyenas unless the lions are on a kill or are bein harassed bi the hyenas, while the latter tend tae visibly react tae the presence o lions whether thare is fuid or nae. Lions seize the kills o spotted hyenas: in the Ngorongoro crater, it is common for lions tae subsist largely on kills stolen frae hyenas, causin the hyenas tae increase thair kill rate.[62] On the ither haund, in Northren Botswana's Chobe National Park, the situation is reversed: hyenas frequently challenge lions an steal thair kills: thay obtain fuid frae 63% o aw lion kills.[63] When confronted on a kill bi lions, spotted hyenas mey either leave or wait patiently at a distance o 30–100 m (98–328 ft) until the lions hae finished,[64] but thay are an aa bold enough tae feed alongside lions, an even force the lions off a kill. The twa species mey attack ane anither even when thare is no fuid involved for no apparent reason.[65][66] Lion predation can accoont for up tae 71% o hyena daiths in Etosha. Spotted hyenas hae adapted bi frequently mobbing lions that enter thair territories.[67] Experiments on captive spotted hyenas revealed that specimens wi no prior experience wi lions act indifferently tae the sicht o them, but will react fearfully tae the scent.[62] The size o male lions allows them occasionally tae confront hyenas in otherwise evenly matched brawls an sae tae tip the balance in favour o the lions.

Lions tend tae dominate smawer felines such as cheetahs an leopards whaur thay co-occur, stealin thair kills an killin thair cubs an even adults when gien the chance. The cheetah haes a 50% chance o losin its kill tae lions or ither predators.[68] Lions are major killers o cheetah cubs, up tae 90% o which are lost in thair first weeks o life due tae attacks bi ither predators. Cheetahs avoid competeetion bi huntin at different times o the day an hide thair cubs in thick brush. Leopards an aa uise such tactics, but hae the advantage o bein able tae subsist much better on smaw prey than either lions or cheetahs. An aa, unlik cheetahs, leopards can climb trees an uise them tae keep thair cubs an kills away frae lions; houiver, lionesses will occasionally be successful in climbing tae retrieve leopard kills.[69] Similarly, lions dominate African wild dogs, nae anly takin thair kills but an aa preying on young an (rarely) adult dogs. Population densities o wild dogs are law in auries whaur lions are mair abundant.[70] Houiver, thare are a few reportit cases o auld an wounded lions falling prey tae wild dogs.[51][71]

The Nile crocodile is the anly sympatric predator (besides humans) that can singly threaten the lion. Dependin on the size o the crocodile an the lion, either can lose kills or carrion tae the ither. Lions hae been kent tae kill crocodiles venturing onto land,[72] while the reverse is true for lions entering waterways, as evidenced bi the occasional lion claw foond in crocodile stomachs.[73]

Man-eating[eedit | eedit soorce]

Main article: Man-eater

While lions dae nae uisually hunt fowk, some (uisually males) seem tae seek oot human prey; ane well-publicised case includes the Tsavo maneaters, whaur 28 offeecially recorded railway workers building the Kenya-Uganda Railway war taken bi lions ower nine months during the construction o a brig ower the Tsavo River in Kenya in 1898.[74] The hunter who killed the lions wrote a beuk detailing the animals' predatory behaviour. The lions war lairger than normal, lacked manes, an ane seemed tae suffer frae tooth decay. The infirmity theory, includin tooth decay, is nae favored bi aw researchers; an analysis o teeth an jaws o man-eatin lions in museum collections suggests that while tooth decay mey explain some incidents, prey depletion in human-dominated auries is a mair likely cause o lion predation on humans.[75]

In thair analysis o Tsavo an general man-eatin, Kerbis Peterhans an Gnoske acknowledge that sick or injured animals mey be mair prone tae man-eatin, but that the behaviour is "not unusual, nor necessarily 'aberrant'" whaur the opportunity exists; if inducements such as access tae livestock or human corpses are present, lions will regularly prey upon human beings. The authors note that the relationship is well-attested amang ither pantherines an primates in the paleontological record.[76]

The lion's proclivity for man-eatin haes been systematically examined. American an Tanzanian scientists report that man-eatin behaviour in rural auries o Tanzania increased greatly frae 1990 tae 2005. At least 563 villagers war attacked an mony eaten ower this period – a nummer far exceedin the mair famed "Tsavo" incidents o a century earlier. The incidents occurred near Selous National Park in Rufiji Destrict an in Lindi Province near the Mozambican border. While the expansion o villagers intae bush kintra is ane concern, the authors argue that conservation policy must mitigate the danger acause, in this case, conservation contributes directly tae human daiths. Cases in Lindi hae been documented whaur lions seize humans frae the center o substantial villages.[77] Anither study o 1,000 fowk attacked bi lions in soothren Tanzania atween 1988 an 2009 foond that the weeks follaein the full moon (when thare wis less moonlight) war a strang indicator o increased nicht attacks on fowk.[78]

The Tsavo Man-Eaters on display in the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois

Author Robert R. Frump wrote in The Man-eaters of Eden that Mozambican refugees regularly crossing Kruger National Park at nicht in South Africa are attacked an eaten bi the lions; park officials hae conceded that man-eatin is a problem thare. Frump believes thousands mey hae been killed in the decades efter apartheid sealed the park an forced the refugees tae cross the park at nicht. For nearly a century afore the border wis sealed, Mozambicans haed regularly walked across the park in daytime wi little harm.[79]

Packer estimates mair nor 200 Tanzanians are killed each year bi lions, crocodiles, elephants, hippos, an snakes, an that the numbers could be double that amount, wi lions thocht tae kill at least 70 o those. Packer haes documented that atween 1990 an 2004, lions attacked 815 fowk in Tanzania, killin 563. Packer an Ikanda are amang the few conservationists who believe wastren conservation efforts must tak accoont o these matters nae juist acause o ethical concerns aboot human life, but an aa for the lang term success o conservation efforts an lion preservation.[77]

A man-eatin lion wis killed bi gemme scouts in Southern Tanzania in Aprile 2004. It is believed tae hae killed an eaten at least 35 fowk in a series o incidents covering several villages in the Rufiji Delta coastal region.[80] Dr Rolf D. Baldus, the GTZ wildlife programme coordinator, commented that it wis likely that the lion preyed on humans acause it haed a lairge abscess underneath a molar that wis cracked in several places. He further commented that "This lion probably experienced a lot of pain, particularly when it was chewing."[81] GTZ is the German development cooperation agency an haes been wirkin wi the Tanzanian govrenment on wildlife conservation for nearly twa decades. As in ither cases this lion wis lairge, lacked a mane, an haed a tooth problem.

The "All-Africa" record o man-eatin generally is considered tae be nae Tsavo, but incidents in the early 1930s throu the late 1940s in what wis then Tanganyika (nou Tanzania). George Rushby, gemme warden an professional hunter, eventually dispatched the pride, which ower three generations is thocht tae hae killed an eaten 1,500 tae 2,000 fowk in what is nou Njombe destrict.[82]

Reproduction and life cycle[eedit | eedit soorce]

Most lionesses will hae reproduced bi the time thay are fower years o age.[83] Lions dae nae mate at ony specific time o year, an the females are polyestrous.[84] As wi ither cats' penises, the male lion's penis haes spines that pyntin backward. During withdrawal o the penis, the spines rake the walls o the female's vagina, which mey cause ovulation.[85] A lioness mey mate wi mair nor ane male when she is in heat.[86]

Mating lions.

The average gestation period is aroond 110 days,[84] the female giein birth tae a litter o ane tae fower cubs in a secluded den (which mey be a thicket, a reed-bed, a cave, or some ither sheltered aurie) uisually away frae the rest o the pride. She will eften hunt bi herself while the cubs are still helpless, staying relatively close tae the thicket or den whaur the cubs are kept.[87] The cubs themselves are born blind – thair ees dae nae open until roughly a week efter birth. Thay weigh 1.2–2.1 kg (2.6–4.6 lb) at birth an are awmaist helpless, beginning tae crawl a day or twa efter birth an walkin aroond three weeks o age.[88] The lioness moves her cubs tae a new den site several times a month, carrying them ane bi ane bi the nape o the neck, tae prevent scent frae building up at a single den site an thus avoiding the attention o predators that mey harm the cubs.[87]

Uisually, the mither daes nae integrate herself an her cubs back intae the pride until the cubs are sax tae aicht weeks auld.[87] Whiles this introduction tae pride life occurs earlier, houiver, parteecularly if ither lionesses hae gien birth at aboot the same time. For instance, lionesses in a pride eften synchronise thair reproductive cycles sae that thay cooperate in the raising an souklin o the young (ance the cubs are past the initial stage o isolation wi thair mither), who suckle indiscriminately frae ony or aw o the nouricin females in the pride. In addition tae greater pertection, the synchronization o births an aa haes an advantage in that the cubs end up bein roughly the same size, an thus hae an equal chance o survival. If ane lioness gies birth tae a litter o cubs a couple o months efter anither lioness, for instance, then the younger cubs, bein much smawer than thair aulder brethren, uisually are dominated bi lairger cubs at mealtimes – consequently, daith bi starvation is mair common amang the younger cubs.

A pregnant lioness (right).

In addition tae starvation, cubs an aa face mony ither dangers, such as predation bi jackals, hyenas, leopards, martial eagles, an snakes. Even buffaloes, should thay catch the scent o lion cubs, eften stampede toward the thicket or den whaur thay are bein kept, daein thair best tae trample the cubs tae daith while warding off the lioness. Furthermore, when ane or mair new males oust the previous male(s) associated wi a pride, the conqueror(s) eften kill ony existin young cubs,[89] perhaps acause females dae nae acome fertile an receptive until thair cubs mature or die. Aw in aw, as mony as 80% o the cubs will die afore the age o twa.[90]

When first introduced tae the rest o the pride, the cubs initially lack confidence when confronted wi adult lions ither than thair mither. Thay suin begin tae immerse themselves in the pride life, houiver, playing amang themselves or attemptin tae initiate play wi the adults. Lionesses wi cubs o thair ain are mair likely tae be tolerant o anither lioness's cubs than lionesses wioot cubs. The tolerance o the male lions toward the cubs varies – whiles, a male will patiently let the cubs play wi his tail or his mane, whauras anither mey snarl an bat the cubs away.[91]

Male lions are generally mair likely tae share fuid caught bi the pride wi cubs than wi lionesses, but rarely share thair ain catches wi others.

Weaning occurs efter sax tae seiven months. Male lions reach maturity at aboot 3 years o age and, at 4–5 years o age, are capable o challengin an displacing the adult male(s) associated wi anither pride. Thay begin tae age an weaken atween 10 an 15 years o age at the latest,[92] if thay hae nae already been critically injured while defendin the pride (ance ousted frae a pride bi rival males, male lions rarely manage a seicont tak-ower). This leaves a short window for thair ain affspring tae be born an mature. If thay are able tae procreate as suin as thay tak ower a pride, potentially, thay mey hae mair affspring reachin maturity afore thay an aa are displaced. A lioness eften will attempt tae defend her cubs fiercely frae a usurping male, but such actions are rarely successful. He uisually kills aw o the existin cubs who are less nor twa years auld. A lioness is weaker an much lighter than a male; success is mair likely when a group o three or fower mothers within a pride join forces against ane male.[89]

Contrary tae popular belief, it is nae anly males that are ousted frae thair pride tae acome nomads, awtho maist females certainly dae remain wi thair birth pride. Houiver, when the pride becomes too lairge, the next generation o female cubs mey be forced tae leave tae eke oot thair ain territory. Furthermore, when a new male lion takes ower the pride, subadult lions, baith male an female, mey be evicted.[93] Life is harsh for a female nomad. Nomadic lionesses rarely manage tae raise thair cubs tae maturity, wioot the pertection o ither pride members.

Ane scienteefic study reports that baith males an females mey interact homosexually. Lions are shawn tae be involved in group homosexual an courtship activities. Male Lions will an aa heid rub an roll aroond wi each ither afore haein sex thegither.[94]

Health[eedit | eedit soorce]

Awtho adult lions hae no natural predators, evidence suggests that the majority die violently frae humans or ither lions.[95] Lions eften inflict serious injuries on each ither, either members o different prides encountering each ither in territorial disputes, or members o the same pride fechtin at a kill.[96] Crippled lions an lion cubs mey faw victim tae hyenas, leopards, or be trampled bi buffalo or elephants, an careless lions mey be maimed when huntin prey.[97]

Lions seeking refuge frae flies bi climbing a tree.

Various species o tick commonly infest the lugs, neck an groin regions o maist lions.[98][99] Adult forms o several species o the tapeworm genus Taenia hae been isolated frae thairms, the lions haein ingestit larval forms frae antelope meat.[100] Lions in the Ngorongoro Crater war afflicted bi an outbreak o stable fly (Stomoxys calcitrans) in 1962; this resulted in lions acomin covered in bloody bare patches an emaciated. Lions sought unsuccessfully tae evade the bitin flies bi climbing trees or crawling intae hyena burrows; mony perished or emigrated as the population dropped frae 70 tae 15 individuals.[101] A mair recent outbreak in 2001 killed sax lions.[102] Lions, especially in captivity, are vulnerable tae the canine distemper virus (CDV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), an feline infectious peritonitis (FIP).[27] CDV is spread throu domestic dogs an ither carnivores; a 1994 outbreak in Serengeti National Park resulted in mony lions developin neurological symptoms such as seizures. During the outbreak, several lions died frae pneumonia an encephalitis.[103] FIV, which is seemilar tae HIV while nae kent tae adversely affect lions, is worrisome enough in its effect in domestic cats that the Species Survival Plan recommends systematic testin in captive lions. It occurs wi heich tae endemic frequency in several wild lion populations, but is maistly absent frae Asiatic an Namibian lions.[27]

Communication[eedit | eedit soorce]

Heid rubbin and licking are common social behaviours within a pride

When restin, lion socialization occurs throu a nummer o behaviours, an the animal's expressive movements are heichly developed. The maist common peaceful tactile gestures are heid rubbin an social licking,[104] which hae been compared wi gruimin in primates.[105] Heid rubbin – nuzzling ane's forehead, face an neck against anither lion – appears tae be a form o greeting,[106] as it is seen eften efter an animal haes been apart frae others, or efter a fecht or confrontation. Males tend tae rub ither males, while cubs an females rub females.[107] Social licking eften occurs in tandem wi heid rubbin; it is generally mutual an the recipient appears tae express pleasure. The heid an neck are the maist common pairts o the body licked, which mey hae arisen oot o utility, as a lion canna lick these auries individually.[108]

Template:Sound Lions hae an array o facial expressions an body postures that serve as visual gestures.[109] Thair repertoire o vocalisations is an aa lairge; variations in intensity an pitch, rather than discrete signals, appear central tae communication. Lion sounds include snarling, hissing, coughing, miaowing, woofing, an roaring. Lions tend tae roar in a very characteristic manner, stairtin wi a few deep, lang roars that trail off intae a series o shorter ones.[110][111] Thay maist eften roar at nicht; the sound, which can be heard frae a distance o 8 kilometres (5.0 mi), is uised tae advertise the animal's presence.[112] Lions hae the loudest roar o ony big cat.

Distribution and habitat[eedit | eedit soorce]

Twa male Asiatic lions. The wild population of the endangered Asiatic lions is restricted tae the Gir Forest National Park in wastren Indie.[113]

In Africa, lions can be foond in savanna grasslands wi scattered Acacia trees, which serve as shade;[114] thair habitat in Indie is a mixture o dry savanna forest an very dry deciduous scrub forest.[115] The habitat o lions oreeginally spanned the soothren pairts o Eurasia, rangin frae Greece tae Indie, an maist o Africa except the central rainforest-zone an the Sahara desert. Herodotus reportit that lions haed been common in Greece in 480 BC; thay attacked the baggage camels o the Persian king Xerxes on his march throu the kintra. Aristotle considered them rare bi 300 BC. Bi 100 AD thay war extirpated.[116] A population o Asiatic lions survived until the tenth century in the Caucasus, thair last European outpost.[117]

The species wis eradicated frae Palestine bi the Middle Ages an frae maist o the rest o Asia efter the arrival o readily available firearms in the eighteenth century. Between the late nineteenth an early twentieth century, thay became extinct in North Africa an Southwest Asia. Bi the late nineteenth century, the lion haed disappeared frae Turkey an maist o northren Indie,[27][118] while the last sighting o a live Asiatic lion in Iran wis in 1941 (atween Shiraz an Jahrom, Fars Province), awtho the corpse o a lioness wis foond on the banks o the Karun river, Khūzestān Province in 1944. Thare are no subsequent reliable reports frae Iran.[55] The subspecies nou survives anly in an aroond the Gir Forest o northwastren Indie.[119] Approximately 500 lions live in the aurie o the 1,412 km2 (545 sq mi) sanctuary in the state o Gujarat, which covers maist o the forest. Thair numbers hae increased frae 180 tae 523 animals mainly acause the natural prey species hae recovered.[120][121]

Population and conservation status[eedit | eedit soorce]

Main article: Lion hunting
The Asiatic lion, whose habitat ance ranged frae the Mediterranean tae north-wast Indian subcontinent, is the day foond anly in the Gir Forest of Gujarat, Indie. It wis estimatit that anly 523 Asiatic lions survive in the wild.[122]

Most lions nou live in eastren an soothren Africa, an thair numbers thare are rapidly decreasing, wi an estimatit 30–50% decline per 20 years in the late half o the 20th century.[2] Estimates o the African lion population range atween 16,500 an 47,000 livin in the wild in 2002–2004,[123][124] doun frae early 1990s estimates that ranged as heich as 100,000 an perhaps 400,000 in 1950. Primary causes o the decline include disease an human interference.[2] Habitat loss an conflicts wi humans are considered the maist significant threats tae the species.[125][126] The remainin populations are eften geographically isolated frae ane anither, which can lead tae inbreeding, an consequently, reduced genetic diversity. Therefore the lion is considered a vulnerable species bi the International Union for Conservation of Nature, while the Asiatic subspecies is endangered.[127] The lion population in the region o West Africa is isolated frae lion populations o Central Africa, wi little or no exchange o breedin individuals. The nummer o mature individuals in West Africa is estimatit bi twa separate recent surveys at 850–1,160 (2002/2004). Thare is disagreement ower the size o the lairgest individual population in West Africa: the estimates range frae 100 tae 400 lions in Burkina Faso's Arly-Singou ecosystem.[2] Anither population in northwastren Africa is foond in Waza National Park, whaur approximately 14–21 animals persist.[128]

Black maned male lion, shot in the Sotik Plains, Kenya (Mey 1909)

Conservation o baith African an Asian lions haes required the setup an maintenance o naitional parks an gemme reserves; amang the best kent are Etosha National Park in Namibia, Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, an Kruger National Park in eastren South Africa. The Ewaso Lions Project protects lions in the Samburu National Reserve, Buffalo Springs National Reserve an Shaba National Reserve o the Ewaso Ng'iro ecosystem in Northren Kenya.[129] Ootside these auries, the issues arising frae lions' interaction wi livestock an fowk uisually results in the elimination o the umwhile.[130] In Indie, the last refuge o the Asiatic lion is the 1,412 km2 (545 sq mi) Gir Forest National Park in wastren Indie, which haed approximately 180 lions in 1974 an aboot 400 in 2010.[120] As in Africa, numerous human habitations are close bi wi the resultant problems atween lions, livestock, locals an wildlife officials.[131] The Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project plans tae establish a seicont independent population o Asiatic lions at the Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in the Indian state o Madhya Pradesh.[132] It is important tae stairt a seicont population tae serve as a gene pool for the last surviving Asiatic lions an tae help develop an maintain genetic diversity enabling the species tae survive.

The umwhile popularity o the Barbary lion as a zoo animal haes meant that scattered lions in captivity are likely tae be descended frae Barbary lion stock. This includes lions at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kent, England that are descended frae animals owned bi the King of Morocco.[133] Anither eleven animals believed tae be Barbary lions war foond in Addis Ababa zoo, descendants o animals owned bi Emperor Haile Selassie. WildLink International, in collaboration wi Oxford University, launched thair ambitious International Barbary Lion Project wi the aim o identifyin an breedin Barbary lions in captivity for eventual reintroduction intae a naitional park in the Atlas Mountains o Morocco.[22]

Follaein the discovery o the decline o lion population in Africa, several coordinated efforts involvin lion conservation hae been organised in an attempt tae stem this decline. Lions are ane species included in the Species Survival Plan, a coordinated attempt bi the Association of Zoos and Aquariums tae increase its chances o survival. The plan wis oreeginally stairtit in 1982 for the Asiatic lion, but wis suspended when it wis foond that maist Asiatic lions in North American zoos war nae genetically pure, haein been hybridised wi African lions. The African lion plan stairtit in 1993, focusing especially on the South African subspecies, awtho thare are difficulties in assessing the genetic diversity o captive lions, syne maist individuals are o unkent origin, makin maintenance o genetic diversity a problem.[27]

In captivity[eedit | eedit soorce]

Lions are pairt o a group o exotic animals that are the core o zoo exhibits syne the late eighteenth century; members o this group are invariably lairge vertebrates an include elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, lairge primates, an ither big cats; zoos sought tae gather as mony o these species as possible.[134] Awtho mony modren zoos are mair selective aboot thair exhibits,[135] thare are mair nor 1,000 African an 100 Asiatic lions in zoos an wildlife parks aroond the warld. Thay are considered an ambassador species an are kept for tourism, eddication an conservation purposes.[136] Lions can reach an age o ower 20 years in captivity; Apollo, a resident lion o Honolulu Zoo in Honolulu, Hawaii, died at age 22 in August 2007. His twa sisters, born in 1986, war still alive in August 2007.[137] Breedin programs need tae note origins tae avoid breedin different subspecies an thus reducing conservation value.[138] Houiver, several Asiatic-African lion crosses hae been bred.[139]

Male African lion of the Transvaal subspecies (P. l. krugeri)

At the ancient Egyptian ceeties o Taremu an Per-Bast war temples tae the lioness goddesses o Egyp, Sekhmet an Bast an at Taremu thare wis a temple tae the son o the deity, Maahes the lion prince, whaur live lions war kept an allowed tae roam within his temple. The Greeks cried the ceety Leontopolis, the "City of Lions" an documented that practice. Lions war kept an bred bi Assyrian kings as early as 850 BC,[116] an Alexander the Great wis said tae hae been presented wi tame lions bi the Malhi o northren Indie.[140] Later in Roman times, lions war kept bi emperors tae tak pairt in the gladiator arenas or for executions (see bestiarii, damnatio ad bestias, an venatio). Roman notables, includin Sulla, Pompey, an Julius Caesar, eften ordered the mass slaughter o hunders o lions at a time.[141] In the East, lions war tamed bi Indian princes, an Marco Polo reportit that Kublai Khan kept lions inside.[142] The first European "zoos" spread amang noble an royal families in the thirteent century, an until the seventeenth century war cried seraglios; at that time, thay came tae be cried menageries, an extension o the cabinet of curiosities. Thay spread frae Fraunce an Italy during the Renaissance tae the rest o Europe.[143] In England, awtho the seraglio tradeetion wis less developed, Lions war kept at the Tower of London in a seraglio established bi King John in the thirteent century,[144][145] probably stocked wi animals frae an earlier menagerie stairtit in 1125 bi Henry I at his huntin lodge in Woodstock, near Oxford; whaur lions haed reportedly been stocked bi William of Malmesbury.[146]

Seraglios served as expressions o the nobility's power an wealth. Animals such as big cats an elephants, in parteecular, symbolised power, an would be pitted in fights against each ither or domesticatit animals. Bi extension, menageries an seraglios served as demonstrations o the dominance o humanity ower naitur. Consequently, the defeat o such natural "lords" bi a cow in 1682 astonished the spectators, an the flight o an elephant afore a rhinoceros drew jeers. Such fights would slowly fade oot in the seventeenth century wi the spread o the menagerie an thair appropriation bi the commoners. The tradeetion o keepin big cats as pets would last intae the nineteenth century, at which time it wis seen as heichly eccentric.[147]

Albrecht Dürer, Lions sketch. (circa 1520)

The presence o lions at the Tower o London wis intermittent, bein restocked when a monarch or his consort, such as Margaret of Anjou the wife o Henry VI, either sought or war gien animals. Records indicate thay war kept in poor conditions thare in the seventeenth century, in contrast tae mair open conditions in Florence at the time.[148] The menagerie wis open tae the public bi the eighteenth century; admission wis a sum o three half-pence or the supply o a cat or dog for feeding tae the lions.[149] A rival menagerie at the Exeter Exchange an aa exhibitit lions until the early nineteenth century.[150] The Tower menagerie wis closed doun bi William IV,[149] an animals transferred tae the London Zoo, which opened its gates tae the public on 27 Aprile 1828.[151]

The wild animals trade flourished alongside improved colonial trade o the nineteenth century. Lions war considered fairly common an inexpensive. Awtho thay would barter higher than teegers, thay war less costly than lairger, or mair difficult tae transport animals such as the giraffe an hippopotamus, an much less nor giant pandas.[152] Lik ither animals, lions war seen as little mair nor a natural, boundless commodity that wis mercilessly exploited wi terrible losses in capture an transportation.[153] The widely reproduced imagery o the heroic hunter chasin lions would dominate a lairge pairt o the century.[154] Explorers an hunters exploited a popular Manichean division o animals intae "good" an "evil" tae add thrilling value tae thair adventures, castin themselves as heroic figures. This resulted in big cats, always suspected o bein man-eaters, representin "both the fear of nature and the satisfaction of having overcome it."[155]

Lion at Melbourne Zoo enjoying an elevatit grassy aurie wi some tree shelter

Lions war kept in cramped an squalid conditions at London Zoo until a lairger lion hoose wi roomier cages wis biggit in the 1870s.[156] Further changes teuk place in the early twentieth century, when Carl Hagenbeck designed enclosures mair closely resembling a natural habitat, wi concrete 'rocks', mair open space an a moat instead o bars. He designed lion enclosures for baith Melbourne Zoo an Sydney's Taronga Zoo, amang others, in the early twentieth century. Tho his designs war popular, the auld bars an cage enclosures prevailed until the 1960s in mony zoos.[157] In the later decades o the twentieth century, lairger, mair natural enclosures an the uise o wire mesh or laminated glass instead o lowered dens allowed visitors tae come closer than ever tae the animals, wi some attractions even placin the den on grund higher than visitors, such as the Cat Forest/Lion Owerleuk o Oklahoma City Zoological Park.[27] Lions are nou housed in much lairger naturalistic auries; modren recommended guidelines mair closely approximate conditions in the wild wi closer attention tae the lions' needs, highlighting the need for dens in separate auries, elevatit poseetions in baith sun an shade whaur lions can sit an adequate grund cover an drainage as well as sufficient space tae roam. Thare hae an aa been instances whaur a lion wis kept bi a private individual, such as the lioness Elsa, who wis raised bi George Adamson an his wife Joy Adamson an came tae develop a strang bond wi them, parteecularly the latter. The lioness later achieved fame, her life bein documented in a series o beuks an films.

Baiting and taming[eedit | eedit soorce]

Nineteenth century etching o a lion tamer in a cage of lions

Lion-baiting is a blood sport involvin the baiting o lions in combat wi ither animals, uisually dogs. Records o it exist in ancient times throu until the seventeenth century. It wis finally banned in Vienna bi 1800 an England in 1835.[158][159]

Lion tamin refers tae the practice o tamin lions for entertainment, either as pairt o an established circus or as an individual act, such as Siegfried & Roy. The term is an aa eften uised for the tamin an display o ither big cats such as teegers, leopards, an cougars. The practice wis pioneered in the first half o the nineteenth century bi Frenchman Henri Martin an American Isaac Van Amburgh who baith toured widely, an whose techniques war copied bi a nummer o followers.[160] Van Amburgh performed afore Queen Victoria in 1838 when he toured Great Britain. Martin componed a pantomime titled Les Lions de Mysore ("the lions of Mysore"), an idea that Amburgh quickly borrowed. These acts eclipsed equestrianism acts as the central display o circus shows, but truly entered public consciousness in the early twentieth century wi cinema. In demonstratin the superiority o human ower animal, lion tamin served a purpose seemilar tae animal fights o previous centuries.[160] The ultimate proof o a tamer's dominance an control ower a lion is demonstrated bi placin his heid in the lion's mooth. The nou iconic lion tamer's chair wis possibly first uised bi American Clyde Beatty (1903–1965).[161]

Notes[eedit | eedit soorce]

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