East and South Africa
Savannas and semi-arid regions
Buffalo, zebra, antelope, giraffe, and warthogs. Gnu and wildebeest
Typically, a mature male stands 4 feet at the shoulder and is 8½ feet long, plus tail. He averages 450 pounds. Females are considerable smaller, and weigh less than 300 pounds. Adult lions usually have a plain unspotted coat, light brown to dark ochre in color while cubs are marked with spots that sometimes persist on the legs and belly until they are fully grown. Male lions have a brown mane, which tends to grow darker and fuller as the animal ages. "White" lions occasionally occur in the Transvaal region of southern Africa, but these are not true albinos.
Lions are the only social cats and live in groups called prides. Lions are primarily diurnal and crepuscular. During “play fighting,” retracted claws and unexposed teeth are used. “Play fighting” develops skills for hunting and also establishes relative social status within the pride. A lion’s mane not only makes it look larger and more intimidating, but also protects its neck.
Births are most common in January and September. After a gestation period of about 110 days, a litter of 2 to 4 cubs are born. The lioness cares for her cubs and uses low growls to communicate. Only 1 in 5 cubs will survive the first year. The smallest and youngest usually perishes first. Cubs are dependent on adults for about 16 months.
Lions are threatened due to illegal hunting and fur trading. However, the survival rates of African lions are on the rise because of African wildlife preserves.