The African lion is the symbol of courage and strength. These iconic animals have powerful bodies in the cat family, they’re second in size only to tigers and roars that can be heard from five miles away. An adult lion’s coat is yellow-gold, and juveniles have some light spots that disappear with age. Only male lions typically boast manes, the impressive fringe of long hair that encircles their heads.
These lions mainly stick to the grasslands, scrub, or open woodlands where they can more easily hunt their prey, but they can live in most habitats aside from tropical rainforests and deserts. Asiatic lions are a subspecies of the African lion, but only one very small population survives in India’s Gir Forest.
Breeding of African Lion
In captivity lions often breed every year, but in the wild, they usually breed no more than once in two years. Females are receptive to mating for three or four days within a widely variable reproductive cycle. During this time a pair generally mates every 20–30 minutes, with up to 50 copulations per 24 hours. The lifespan of African lions in the wild 10 – 14 years.
Lions are the only cats that live in groups, which are called prides. These are family units that may include up to three males, a dozen or so females, and their young. All of a pride’s lionesses are related, and female cubs typically stay with the group as they age. Young males eventually leave and establish their own prides by taking over a group headed by another male.
Only male lions boast manes, the impressive fringe of long hair that encircles their heads. Males defend the pride’s territory, which may include some 100 square miles of grasslands, scrub, or open woodlands. These intimidating animals mark the area with urine, roar menacingly to warn intruders, and chase off animals that encroach on their turf. Female lions are the pride’s primary hunters. They often work together to prey upon antelopes, zebras, wildebeest, and other large animals of the open grasslands. Many of these animals are faster than lions, so teamwork pays off.