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African Lion

(Panthera leo krugeri)

Although African lions are not presently listed as endangered, there has been a great reduction in wild lion populations. The primary reason for this decrease in population is the growth of the human population. Poachers hunt lions for trophies, and because they pose a threat to humans and livestock. Expanding agricultural regions have also reduced lion habitat, in turn increasing the risk of inbreeding and the loss of genetic viability.

Lions are carnivores and are one of the largest of the big cats. Carnivores eat meat. In the wild their favorite prey might be a zebra, impala, giraffe, antelope or wildebeest and depend mostly on animals weighing 110-660 pounds. Females do most of the hunting, and males often eat first. Up to 40 pounds of meat can be consumed by an adult male at one meal. In hunting for their food, lions can run up to 37 mph and can leap up to 39 feet. They can also climb trees and have very keen eyesight and smell. Lions are mostly nocturnal (active at night) and therefore do most of their hunting at night. Generally, they rest all day. By late afternoon, they begin to get up, and hunt at night. Hunting, feeding and drinking can take only a few hours, and then lions go back to sleep again.

A family of lions is called a pride. Most lions live in prides of 1-4 adult males, several adult females, cubs and young adults. Females remain in their birth pride for their lifetimes unless pushed out due to overcrowding.
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Genus: Panthera
Species: P. leo

Gestation: 100-119 days
Range: Southern Sahara to South Africa, excluding the Congo rain forest belt. In rich grasslands.
Longevity: 12 to 16 years in the wild, 25 years in captivity
Weight: Males: between 330-550 pounds; Females: 265-400 pounds