(Panthera leo persicus)
Weight: Male 160–190kg; Female 110–120kg.
Length (head and body): Male 170–250cm; Female 140–175cm. The largest Asiatic Lion on record measured 2.9m from nose to tail-tip.
Shoulder height: Male 100–123cm; Female 80–107cm.
Females live on average 17–18 years whilst males live for around 16 years. In captivity, they can live up to 30 years.
HABITAT & DISTRIBUTION
Dry scrubland and open deciduous forest habitats. This species used to be found across the whole of Northern Africa, south west Asia and northern Greece. Today, there are only around 350 individuals left, found only in the Gir forest reserve in Gujarat, northern India. There are plans to reintroduce some to a reserve in Madhya Pradesh.
WHAT THEY EAT
These are carnivorous animals and will feed on almost any animal from rodents through to large ungulates. However, larger animals such as deer, antelope, wild boar, and buffalo form the largest part of their diet. An adult female lion needs about 5kg of meat per day, a male about 7kg but they can gorge up to twice this amount when food is scarce.
Lions are sociable and often live in large groups known as prides (although some are nomads living alone or in pairs). These prides consist of related females and their young, together with a coalition of 1–4 males.
- In 2005 only 359 individual Asiatic Lions were found in the wild. Possible reasons for such small numbers include hunting for the hide, sport and their claws, poisoning and conflict with humans for attacking livestock, loss of habitat and threats by floods, fires and epidemics.
- Lions can reach speeds of about 37 miles per hour, but they lack the stamina to be long-distance runners, so they have to come within about 30m of their prey before starting their attack.
- A lion’s roar can be heard up to 6 miles away. This is used to let other members of the pride know where they are and to mark their territory to other males.
- A lion’s mane is thought to make it look bigger and therefore deter other potential predators and also makes them more attractive to females. Scientists have discovered that females prefer males with fuller and darker manes. The Asiatic Lion’s mane is smaller than an African Lion’s and does not hide its ears.
- Lions are very territorial and can have bitter fights for land and for dominance of the prides. Many lions bear deep scars and teeth marks from fights. During the breeding season, lions can mate up to 700 times!
- A lion’s territory can be up to 150 square miles, depending on availability of prey species and peer pressure. They will mark their boundaries with urine and faeces.
- Lions may spend up to 20 hours a day sleeping to get away from the heat of the day and to preserve energy for the following day’s hunting.