Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild


The lion, referred to as the ‘king of the jungle’ is one of the most iconic members of the big cat family.  These powerful felines previously roamed most of Africa and parts of Asia, but due to declining numbers, today they are only found in parts of Africa and a small population in India.

(C) Jackie Downey

Lions are the only cats that have a family structure, also referred to as a pride. A pride of lions can consist of up to three males, five to twenty females, and their young.

Female cubs will often remain with the pride in which they were born. However, young males will leave their pride when mature enough to establish their own pride.

The lion is the tallest (at the shoulder) of the big cat family, and is the second-heaviest feline after the tiger. They are the only cat species in which the male has a mane.

Lions are usually a pale tawny brown colour, but can vary from yellowish to reddish or a darker brown. Their undersides are lighter in colour and the tips of the ears and tail tuft are black. Lion cubs are born with brown spots, which fade as they mature, but often may still be seen on the legs and undersides.

(C) Michael Vickers
(C) Michael Vickers

Lionesses do the majority of the hunting for the pride, as they are smaller, quicker and more agile than the males.  The males’ mane would also cause them to be easily seen, and to overheat when they exercise hard. They hunt as a group in order to stalk and bring down prey successfully.

Lions spend much of their time resting and are inactive for about 20 hours per day.  Although they can be active at any time, their activity generally peaks after dusk in sporadic bursts until dawn, which is when hunting most often takes place. They spend an average of two hours a day walking and 50 minutes eating.

Lion numbers are falling at an alarming rate; they are declining due to loss of habitat, hunting and poisoning. Unless urgent action is taken, lions may be completely wiped out from unprotected areas lying between national parks.  It is thought that at current rates, lions will be gone from most countries in 20 years time.

Males: Lion
Females: Lioness
Body Length: 140cm to 250cm
Tail Length: 70cm to 100cm
Body Height (Shoulder to floor): 90cm to 125cm
Weight: 110kg to 250kg
Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
Diet: Zebra, antelope, buffalo, warthog
REGION: Africa
HABITAT: Grasslands, savannahs, open woodlands
Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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