THE LIONBy Marichen Groenewald - 16457439
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The Lion appears on the fifty rand note and are one of South-Africa’s big five. Lions are also known as the king of the jungle, with golden fur and the male’s manes they are beautiful, muscular animals. Even though they roar and growl, lions are family animals and truly social in their own communities.
We are now going to learn more in dept about the lions. Their - Biology
- Description
- Behaviour
- Prey
- Habitat
- Range
- Principal Threats
- Role in the environment
- Interesting lion facts
Facts about Lions:
Biology:
Weight
265 to 575 lbs for males and about 260-400 lbs for females
Reproductive Season
Mating takes place year round. Males often bite females in the neck during mating; copulation lasts 8-68 seconds (averaging 21 seconds!) and lions may mate from 60-100 times per 24 hours!
Gestation Period
110 days
Litter Size
2-4 cubs
Sexual Maturity
2-4 years
Longevity
12-18 years in the wild and 20-25 years in captivity
Social Structure
Lions are the only large exotic cats that live in family units, called prides; these families can include as few as two and as many as 40 members. Within an established pride, members rarely fight but rather show affection to one another
















Description:

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Lions are the second largest cats after Tigers. They are the only sexually dimorphic cats (the female and male differ in appearance).
Manes: The male lions' manes make them look fierce and may help protect their throats in battle with other males. They have thick mane around their head that extends down their chest between their forelegs. Their manes can differ in colour from yellow to black. Generally, the darker the lion's mane, the older he is. There are a few populations with very thin mane if no mane at all. Males who have been injured might also lose their manes.
Colour: They are tawny in colour. Young lions with faint spots are occasionally kept into maturity.
Tails: Lions have tufts on their tails, this make them unique they are the only cat with this type of tails.
Strength: Lions are very strong animals; they have massive shoulders, strong forelimbs, long sharp claws and short powerful jaws. Lions might experience physical exertion from just walking across an open plain; this is because of their muscular build that generates a lot of metabolic heat.
Sound: Lions can be heard by humans over 5 miles away (8 km). This is because lions have 9 distinct vocalizations that include roars and puffing.
Behaviour:
Activities: - Lions are excellent swimmers.
- Lions can run at a top speed of 36 miles (58 km/h) but not for long.
- Lions also climb trees to avoid swarms of biting flees and cape buffalos.
- Adult lions are mainly active at night, sleeping or resting about 20 hours a day. They are the least active of the big cats.
- When lions walk, their heels don't touch the ground.
- They often hunt in groups of two or three,

Hunting: They use teamwork to stalk, surround, and kill their prey. Lionesses aren't the most successful of hunters, because they usually score only one kill out of several tries. After the kill the males usually eat first, lionesses next and the cubs get what's left. After they feed, lions may not hunt for a few days. But when they eat, they usually eat all of their prey at once. A typical meal for an adult male lion is 15 pounds (7 kg) of meat, though lions can consume as much as 60 pounds (27 kg) at a sitting.
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Prides: Prides can be as small as 3 or as big as 40 animals. In a pride, lions hunt prey, raise cubs, and defend their territory together. Each pride generally will have no more than two adult males. The males often stay for only two to four years. After that they go off on their own or are evicted by other males who take over the pride. When males are forced to leave the pride that they were born into, they form small bachelor groups and roam. While the females usually live with the pride for life, when a new male becomes part of the pride it is not unusual for him to kill all the cubs, ensuring that all future cubs will have his genes. This is the reason way most of the lionesses are related – mothers, daughters, grandmothers and sisters the main job of males in the pride are defending the pride's territory.Picture4.jpg
Territories: Both males and females mark their territories by roaring and scent marking. Lions give a flehmen response when they investigate scent marks or the reproductive state of lionesses. The roar warns off intruders and helps round up stray members of the pride.
Cubs: Cubs are born in litters of one to six, with two to four being the average number. Their average weight at birth is two to four pounds (1 - 2 kg). The pride see the cubs for the first time when they are about 8 weeks old, that is because the lioness give birth to the cubs in a secluded area away from the pride. Several females give birth at about the same time and they share the duties of protecting the cubs. That’s why they also nurse cubs other than their own. The Young cubs are vulnerable to predation by hyenas, leopards and black-backed jackals. As a result of this, as well as starvation during times of food shortages and attacks by males taking over a pride, 60-70% of lion cubs die within their first 2 years, this is why Lionesses will sometimes leave the pride with cubs to protect them until the age of 2 years and some die defending their cubs.
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Life: Lions have been known to live nearly 30 years in captivity and have an average life span of 15 years in the wild.

Prey
What lions feed on: Lions do most of their hunting at night or very early dawn. 85% - 90% of the prides hunting is done by the females. The Lions also steal kills from hyenas, wild dogs, cheetahs, leopards and also other lions. This type of hunting provides 50% of their diets.
Some of their largest prey consists of antelopes, impala, zebras, wildebeest, giraffe, buffalo, wild hogs, rhinos and hippos. Lions might even attack elephants when food is scarce. Lions normally feed on hares, birds, reptiles, crocodiles, pythons, fur seals, baboons, porcupines and ostrich eggs. Lions may only eat every 2 or 3 days, because their hunting success is low. They can eat almost 79 lbs of meat in one feeding. Most lions drink water daily if available, but they can go four or five days without it.
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HabitatA pride's territory can be 15 to 400 square miles in area; their habitat can consist of grassy plains, savannahs, scrub and dense bush, or dry open woodlands. It is ironic that lions do not live in a moist tropical forests, the king of the jungle does not live in the jungle.
RangeLions lived in most of Africa and parts of Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Today they are found only in parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Habitat loss means that they now occupy about 10% of their former range in Africa.Picture7.jpg
Principal ThreatsLions face direct threats such as: being killed as part of tribal rituals and for their supposed medicinal and magical powers, they might even replace tigers as sources of ingredients for Chinese medicines. Lions are also threatened by burgeoning human populations which result in loss of habitat as well as hunting, poisoning and poaching by livestock ranchers. Trophy hunting is another threat to their wellbeing, with white lions being especially popular for canned hunting.Lions also face an indirect threat, from climate change called co-infection, severe drought in which they acquire both canine distemper and a tick-borne parasitic disease the diseases cause high mortality. Picture8.jpg





Role in EnvironmentLions are a keystone species. If lions were to disappear, populations of the species they prey on would increase dramatically. The result would be excessive competition for food between the prey species, and also between these prey species and livestock.



Interesting Lion Facts
#10: The Brady ... Lunch?Picture9.jpg
The primary role of a male lion is as defender of the pride, but a younger, fitter lion will often overthrow an older king to take over.However, the new ruler isn't going to win a "Stepfather of the Year" award anytime soon: it's also common for a male to kill off any cubs that are not his own to ensure all future offspring will have his genes.


#9: Girl Power
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Maybe the phrase "the lion's share" should be revised to "lionesses," because when it comes to putting food on the table, the female pulls the most weight. Lionesses not only secure dinner but serve the males first, even before the cubs!


#8: Competitive Eater

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Talk about a glutton! A lion will eat around 40 pounds of meat in one sitting on average. It then follows up its meal with the ultimate food coma, as it snoozes post-gorge for up to 24 hours
#7: Breaking the Sound Barrier
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Though a lion can't actually roar until its 2 years old, once the switch is flipped, it's hard to ignore. The mighty bellow used to ward off predators has enough force to raise a cloud of dust and can be heard up to five miles away!
6: Check Mating

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For the lion and lioness couple, it's all about quantity, not quality. Though romps usually only last for 10 seconds, the process is repeated up to 40 times a day -- now that's stamina!
5: Prickly Enemy No. 1
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The lion's worst enemy might come as a surprise, as the culprit is the size of a small dog: turns out the porcupine is the thorn in the big cat's side, or rather mouth, as a lion tricked into sniffing the clever porcupine's sharp quills often ends up with one or more stuck in its jaw for life.


#4: Tantalizing Tail
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The lion is the only member of the cat family with a tasselled tail, which serves a purpose beyond aesthetics. It's often used to signal to other members of the pride, with messages ranging from directional, "this way" commands to flirtatious, "come hither" invitations!
#3: A Manicurist's Nightmare
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A lion's claws are not only very sharp, but also retractable, which helps maintain the big cat's slice-and-dice capabilities by preventing injury during play. Their claws grow as a series of layers. These eventually shred to expose new claws that can reach lengths of up to 1 1/2 inches from the base to tip.
2: Armed to the Teeth
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A lion's back teeth (called carnassials) work like a pair of scissors, which comes in handy when tackling a fresh piece of meat. Though the teeth help cut up their meals, lions don't actually chew their food, but rather swallow it in chunks, using only one side of their mouth at a time
1: Rub-a-Dub-Dub
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Male and females greet each other not with a handshake but with a rub, which sometimes becomes so vigorous that one gets knocked down in the process. The act is meant as a means of bonding, as lions leave scent markings on each other during the process, similar to how house cats rub up against their pet parents to demonstrate ownership (but hopefully, with less injury!).