King of the Forest
The lion, a short-haired, tawny cat, roams the grasslands and semi-arid plains of Africa and Asia. Lions are also found in bush and forests. The male lion is easily recognized by its mane. Its majestic appearance has given it the title of “the King of the Jungle”. The mane allows the lions to appear stronger and more frightening to warn off enemies- and to attract lionesses! The male lion is very protective of his pride or family unit and patrols a vast territory, normally covering about 100 square miles. With powerful legs, a strong jaw, and long canine teeth, the lion can bring down and kill large prey easily.
The average male lion weighs around 400 lb or about as much as two average adults and a child put together. Lionesses are better hunters than males and do most of the hunting for a pride. Prides, composed of four to six females, work together to take down large prey, such as zebra, wildebeest, impala and buffalo. Hunting skills are developed as cubs through the use of play-fighting among relatives. A lion’s diet also consists of small rodents, hares and reptiles, which can be hunted and killed by a solitary lion. Lionesses also look after the cubs.
The main threats to lions occur when they run into conflict with humans. Lion populations are also threatened by habitat loss from logging and agriculture. Asiatic lions are far more threatened than the African lions, especially since their population is so small and limited.