The African lion is the biggest of the African carnivores. Its color is tawny to sandy brown. Its long tail has a distinctive black tuft at the tip. The adult males have manes which vary in color from tawny to black.
The head is large with a heavy muzzle.
The pattern of spots at the roots of the whiskers is unique to each individual lion.
Lions live in prides of 2-40 members; the average group has 13 members. The species breeds year-round. Males compete fiercely for the ability to breed with prides of females. Young males often band together to gain control of a pride, with stronger males forcing weaker ones out in battles that can end in the death of the loser. The females of a pride often give birth in close proximity and can help one another care for their cubs. Cubs are kept in hiding for the first eight weeks of their lives and remain dependent on adults until they are 16 months of age. Females remain in their pride upon reaching maturity, while males leave the group at 2.5 years, living nomadically for a time before seeking to take over their own pride.
These lions can be found from the southern Sahara Desert down to southern Africa, excluding the Congo rain forest region. African lions have no specific habitat preference so they can be encountered anywhere, except in forests.
African lion habitats include –
- open plains,
- thick bush and
- semi desert.
The hunting techniques of lions are more successful in long grass and thick bush.
The will try to stalk the prey to within 20 meters using the cover they have available. To avoid the heat of the day African lions are most active at night.
Lions sleep away most of the day because it is usually too hot to hunt. Sunlight also foils most efforts to sneak up on prey.
The estimated population of lions in Africa at the end of 2014 is estimated at about 34,000.
Important to understand is that this means about 50 percent of them have disappeared during the last three decades.