Lion

Tufted-tailed Simba in the plight


Lion

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Tufted-tailed Simba in the plight

Population 20,000
-50% in 25 years

Lions, often celebrated as the “kings of the jungle,” hold a unique place in the animal kingdom for their majestic appearance and distinct social structure. Unlike other big cats, which lead largely solitary lives, lions are inherently social creatures. They live in groups known as “pride,” which are complex, matriarchal societies comprising two to eighteen females (lionesses), their offspring, and a transient coalition of one to two adult males. This social system facilitates shared responsibilities among members, including hunting, defending territory, and caring for the young. Such enduring ties within pride exemplify a remarkable level of cooperation and social bonding rarely observed in other feline species.

The territories of lion pride can span vast areas necessary to support their needs for food, water, and breeding grounds. These territories are fiercely defended against rival pride and other threats, with lionesses often taking the lead in protection and hunting. The communal care for cubs within a pride allows for a higher survival rate, as all the lionesses in a group participate in rearing the young, irrespective of kinship. This shared parenting responsibility ensures that the pride’s offspring have a better chance at reaching adulthood, thus sustaining the pride’s future.

Historically, lions roamed across Europe, Asia, and Africa, reigning over a far more extensive range than they do today. However, their current distribution is limited primarily to sub-Saharan Africa, with a small, isolated population in the Gir Forest of India. Over the last quarter-century, the lion population has suffered a drastic decline, shrinking by half due to various factors.

The lion’s disappearance from 94% of its historic range underscores the urgent need for effective conservation measures. Protecting their natural habitats, implementing sustainable coexistence strategies for human and lion populations, and regulating hunting practices are crucial steps in ensuring the survival of this iconic species.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Afghanistan
Official estimate
EX
Extinct 1900s
Algeria
Official estimate
EX
Extinct 1960s
Angola
2014
Benin
2014
Botswana
1,200
2014
Burkina Faso
2014
Burundi
Official estimate
EX
Extinct 1949
Cameroon
CR
2014
Possibly extinct
Central Af. Rep.
2014
Chad
CR
2014
Possibly extinct
Congo-Brazzaville
Official estimate
EX
Extinct 2014
Côte D’ivoire
CR
2014
Possibly extinct
DR Congo (Kinshasa)
2014
Possibly extinct
Djibouti
Official estimate
EX
Extinct locally
Egypt
Official estimate
EX
Extinct 1960s
Equatorial Guinea
Official estimate
EX
Extinct locally
Eritrea
Official estimate
EX
Eswatini
2014
Possibly extinct
Ethiopia
2014
Gabon
Official estimate
EX
Last seen 1950s
Gambia
Official estimate
EX
Extinct 1940
Ghana
CR
2014
Possibly Extinct
Guinea-Bissau
CR
2014
Possibly extinct
Guinea
CR
2014
Possibly Extinct
India
600
2014
Asiatic lion (P. l. leo)
Iran
Official estimate
EX
Last sighted 1942
Iraq
Official estimate
EX
Last killed 1918
Israel
Official estimate
EX
Extinct 1200 A.D
Jordan
Official estimate
EX
Extinct 20th century
Kenya
2,500
Official estimate
2014
Kuwait
Official estimate
EX
Extinct 20th century
Lebanon
Official estimate
EX
Extinct 20th century
Lesotho
Official estimate
EX
Extinct 1870s
Liberia
Official estimate
EX
Libya
Official estimate
EX
Extinct 1890s
Malawi
CR
2014
Possibly extinct
Mali
CR
2014
Possibly extinct
Mauritania
Official estimate
EX
Last shot 1970
Morocco
Official estimate
EX
Extinct 1960s
Mozambique
<1,500
2014
Namibia
350-400
2014
Niger
<50
CR
2014
Nigeria
CR
2014
Possibly extinct
Pakistan
Official estimate
EX
Extinct 1842
Rwanda
CR
2014
Possibly extinct
Saudi Arabia
Official estimate
EX
Extinct 19th century
Senegal
<400
2014
Sierra Leone
Official estimate
EX
Extinct 2,000 years ago
Somalia
CR
2014
Possibly extinct
South Africa
13,000
2014
Only 2,300 in the wild
South Sudan
CR
2014
Possibly extinct
Sudan
CR
2014
Possibly extinct
Syria
Official estimate
EX
Last record 1891
Tanzania
15,000
2014
Largest population
Togo
CR
2014
Possibly extinct
Tunisia
Official estimate
EX
Extinct 1960s
Turkey
Official estimate
EX
Extinct 1900s
Uganda
400
2014
Zambia
1,200
2014
Zimbabwe
500-700
2014

Recent updates

2020: LionAid assessment suggests only 9,600 lions left in the wild.

May 2021: The South African government has taken a crucial step toward animal protection by prohibiting the captivity of lions in South Africa and banning the commercial use of captive lions and their byproducts, as outlined in a recent report. Not to mention that 85% of lions there in game reserves and captivity.

Did you know?

  • Half of the cubs can not reach the age of one.
  • Males in pride patrol, mark, and guard the pride’s territory and sometimes cubs.
  • Lions are opportunistic hunters as well as scavengers. They even love “fast food” such as wildebeest, gemsbok, zebra, buffalo, and giraffe.
  • Trophy hunting also threatens lions in protected habitats like national parks by targeting adult males for hunting, creating “vacuum effect”.
  • They are the only cats who roar together, even young cubs joining in with their mews, isn’t that lovely?

Anything we've missed?

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Get to know me

Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Troops

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No

Lion on banknotes

Kenya 500 Shillings Banknote (2019)
Swaziland – Eswatini 100 Emalangeni (2017)
Tanzania 2000 Shillings