Written by Manya Pandey, a first-year undergraduate student.
Top 20 facts about the lion
Lions belong to the cat family and are native to India and Africa. They signify strength and power that’s why the lion is India’s national animal.
Why is the lion an amazing animal?
Lions are social cats. They love grooming themselves and live in groups known as “pride” and they are really loyal to their members. In fact, membership of these groups only changes when a new pride takes, over or when existing members die. A pride usually comprises about 15 lions
Lions that live in captivity have a higher life expectancy, living up to an average age of 25 years, while the ones living in the wild live only up to 12-16 years of age. Lions spend much of their time resting and their activity generally starts after dusk.
There is a prevailing belief that lions only go for big games like deer and zebras. The truth is that while lions primarily prey on large herbivores such as buffalo, they also hunt for smaller reptiles and rodents like mice, lizards, and tortoises.
More information about the lion
Scientifically, lions belong to a wider category in a classification called “Panthera” which includes most of the big cats. Mythologically the animal has been depicted in several cultures as “kings of all animals” and it is also the vehicle of the goddess of creation—Durga in Hindu mythology.
Males have bigger heads and a prominent mane that covers most of the neck, shoulders, and chest. It is typically brownish or rusty in shade.
Where are lions found?
We associate lions with the grasslands and jungle but did you know they can also live in dry places like deserts? Right now lions are found in areas of the Kalahari Desert as well.
Here’s a list of fun facts about lions.
Top 20 Fun Facts About Lion In 2022
1. Not all the lions have a mane
A mane is the most distinguishable and majestic feature of a lion. Mane is the long hair on the neck of a lion, or any other mammal, like the horse.
Ancient civilisations determined a lion’s battle strength with the density of its mane, but despite its beauty, having a head full of hair is problematic in tropical summers, which is why most of the male lions in Pendjari National Park have short manes.
The male white lion from Timbavati in South Africa, also known as the original white lion, is maneless as well. Isn’t that one of the most interesting fun facts about lion, you’ve ever heard?
2. A tuft at the end of the tail is a characteristic feature of the lion
Each subgroup of the big cats like panther, tiger, and leopard has a distinct feature, and so do lions. Apart from their manes, having a handful of hair at the ends of their tails is their characteristic symbol.
3. Lionesses can turn on and kill older leaders of the pride
Lions may be the head of the pride but lionesses are the decision makers. A new lion can only become a member or the leader of the pride after the females accept them. Every male lion in the pride lives at the grace of the females and if the male of the pride is deemed unfit or a nuisance, the lioness can kill him.
4. The pregnant lioness gives birth away from the pride.
Lionesses prefer to give birth in isolation. It’s not much a choice as a survival tactic. Raising cubs within a herd exposes the young ones to more danger and lesser food; in fact, most of the cubs die of starvation before reaching adulthood. Therefore when the time for birth arrives, she leaves the pride and proceeds to find empty dens or thick bushes, and after the cub are born, she keeps them in hiding for six more weeks.
5 . If needed, lions can climb trees
As we know, lions need a lot of rest that’s why they usually roam the ground, but in some parks in Africa, they have mastered the art of climbing trees!
Lions do this to escape predators or for a better vantage point on their prey. These agile lions are more popular in Tanzania and Uganda. Wasn’t that one of the most amazing fun facts about lion?
6. Their vision is roughly six times more sensitive to light than humans,
Lions are known to hunt at night, that’s why their vision is more sensitive to light which means they have more light-detecting cells called ‘cones’.
7. Continuing our list of fun facts about lion, did you know lions hunt by ambush?
Lions create a semicircle to hunt so their prey has nowhere to escape. The semicircle begins with the smaller lionesses inside who keep pushing the prey towards the centre. Their retractable claws can reach up to 1 ½ inches in length, which makes them the most ruthless hunters.
8, Lionesses do most of the hunting, while males defend the pride’s territory
There is a clear division of labour in pride. The males are tasked with protection, while the females take up the hunting responsibilities. Despite this, males have been known to eat first. The food is shared in an order. After the male lions have eaten, the females get a share and the leftovers are passed onto cubs.
9. Lions once existed in Eurasia and North America but went extinct.
Around 11,900 years ago, a fearsome species of lions known as the cave lion lived in Eurasia (the name for Asia and Europe) during the glacial times, but it went extinct because of human expansion, followed by climate warming.
Recently archaeologists have excavated bone fragments in Canadian and Alaskan caves. These fossils indicate the presence of the American lion about 370,000 years ago.
10. Lions can survive up to four days without drinking water
Lions are highly adaptable creatures. They can live in deserts and can live without water for up to four days, but usually, they need to drink and eat every day. According to research, a female lion needs to eat about 5 kilograms of meat every day, while adult males eat 7 kilograms or more.
11. Lions hunt in raging storms
During storms when all the animals are nestled safely in their herds and homes, where do you think lions go? They go hunting! The darkness and sounds of a stormy night render the prey almost deaf to the incoming danger and lions take advantage of these nights to swiftly kill their prey.
12. Lionesses raise cubs together
Here is one of the bizarre fun facts about lion—their cubs can suckle milk from any female. That’s because all the lionesses collectively raise the cubs.
13 The darker the mane, the older the lion.
A good way to guess a male lion’s age is to check out the darkness of his mane. A lion’s mane protects them from injuries and cold and it’s also used as a means to impress females. The colour of the mane also depends on external factors.
14. Lions have many ways of communication
Lions live in groups, which is why they need to have many ways of communication. Mostly, they make roaring or growling sounds to pass on a message, but they also leave secret markings and visual signals to stay in touch with other members of a pride.
One of the most amazing fun facts about lion is that they rub their heads together to pass on their “family scents”.
15 A lion’s roar can be heard from as far as 8 kilometres away (5 miles)
Lions roar to communicate and warn with their pride about the incoming dangers but it’s so loud it can be used to scare off intruders but it can also serve as a means to assert their dominance among other males.
16. Lions walk royally
Here’s another one of the fun facts about lion that you can tell your friends – when a lion walks, his heels do not touch the ground. This happens because they have very big toes and thick pads at the bottom of their feet. That’s also why they move so fast. That’s another reason why is lion an amazing animal.
More fun facts about a lion. Here’s about its cubs
17. It takes about four months before a cub is born.
It only takes about 110-120 days of pregnancy before a cub is born. The young cub is kept in isolation for about 3 months before it rejoins the pride.
18. They cannot see properly for the first few weeks.
Lion babies are born with their eyes closed. They are really small and can’t really walk on their own. That’s why a lioness moves them by carrying them around by neck. The cubs open their eyes after 3 to 11 days. They are also born without any teeth so a mother leaves them hidden while she goes hunting for food.
19. Young males get kicked out of the pride at about 2 years old.
The older males kick out the young ones when they reach sexual maturity. These young lions form a group of their own with help from their cousins and brothers until they find another pride that they could take over.
20. Maturing cubs have assigned roles.
Usually, the female cubs will stay with the pride, and males are pushed out by the age of 2 to find another pride. The young females follow through with their mothers and take up their hunting responsibilities later.
Where are lions found?
Lions are known as the “king of the jungle” but they also live in other kinds of habitats including deserts. African lions primarily live in grasslands and plains of mild vegetation. Here’s another one in our list of fun facts about lion.
Three of the five largest lion populations in Africa are found in the open savannas of Tanzania. – a country in East Africa
Lions prefer grassy plains and savannas, woodlands, and riversides with bushes. Its rarely ever found in closed forests. The Asiatic lion is now only found in India within the Gir National Park in Gujarat, western India but lions were spread across Europe and Asia when good climatic conditions offered abundant prey
The habitat of the Asiatic lion includes dry savannah forests and deciduous scrub forest
Some more reasons why is lion an amazing animal
Among all wild felid species, lions are the most sociable of cats. They are so loyal to the pride that the members inside a pride only change at births and death although some females leave and choose a nomadic life.
They are also a bit lazy and can sleep over 20 hours a day. At this rate, they might leave pandas and sloths behind! They can be active at any time but their activity usually increases at dusk.
They spend an average of fifty a day minutes eating and up to two hours walking.
A lioness usually gives birth to between one and four lion babies
A female has a maximum of 6 cubs but she only has four teats (milk glands from where the cubs suckle). So to ensure the survival of the species, four is the natural number.
Here’s some more interesting information about lion
- The newborn lion cubs have dark spots like a leopard. These spots fade away as the cub matures.
- Lions can reach speeds up to 80 kilometres per mile, that’s double the legal speed limit of cars in India
- These majestic creatures are under serious threat. The International Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN), an organisation that checks the declining population of animals, has marked the lion on the red list as a threatened species.
The number of African lions is believed to have declined by over 40% in just three decades.
Lions survive a lot of hardships each day but their problems have only increased because of human activities such as deforestation. Most of them die of starvation. Climate change is another threat. Even though poaching is illegal, lions are still being hunted for furs and teeth.
We need to be kind towards animals.
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