The Lion Path
Panthera leo krugeri
African lions range from southern Sahara to southern Africa
except for the area of the Congo rain forest belt.
Appearance and Size
Lions are tan in color and have a slightly white under-body, with a
tuft of black hair at the end of their tails. Cubs are born with a
slightly spotted coat, that changes to their parents tawny coloration
at about three months old. Adult Male lions generally have a large mane of hair around the neck.
That begins to develop at about two years of age. This mane can vary
in color from tawny (tan) to black.
Lions have 30 teeth. I thought you might like to know that.
Adult male lions weigh on average 415 pounds while female lions
weigh 275 pounds. Male lions are typically 4 feet in height. Females
are slightly smaller at 44 inches.
As with humans, female lions outlive males; 18 years compared to 12.
A Lion's Advantages
- Thick mane helps male look bigger and protects the throat.
- Tawny coat color camouflages animal and young among scrub vegetation.
- Eyes in front allow for depth perception and ability to judge distances when stalking or ambushing prey.
- Heavily muscled forelimbs and shoulders add strength for capturing large prey.
- Forepaws equipped with long, retractile claws help to grab and hold prey.
- Rough tongue designed to peel skin of prey animal away from flesh, and flesh from bone.
Individual lions can be identified by recording the spots on their
muzzle. A Lion has 4 or 5 parallel rows of whisker spots, on either
side of its muzzle. Lionologists concentrate on the few extra spots
above the topmost row (the "reference" row), Whisker spots are easily
detected in even the smallest cubs, and they remain the same
throughout the lion's life.
Lions are the only social cats. Related female lions live together
and form groups called "prides". Lion prides are family groups with
all of the females related, mothers and daughters, sisters and
cousins, and so on.
Female lions will live with the pride for life. By age two to four
years, male lions will be evicted or killed by a new coalition of
male lions that take over the pride.
Lionesses mature by age four and are ready to breed. They can come
into heat at any time of the year. However, prides tend to synchronize
reproduction. This could be due to new male coalitions taking over
the pride and the death of their previous litter of cubs. Estrus will
last from 2 to 6 days. From conception, the gestation period is about
110 days. Females will not come into heat again for another 20 to 30
months after a litter is born unless their cubs are killed.
Then they may come into heat within four days of the death of their
A female will on average give birth to three cubs that are 2-4 pounds.
The cubs' eyes open between three to eleven days of age, and begin
walking at 10 to 15 days. When the cubs are between four to six weeks
old, the mother brings them out to the rest of the pride. Litters
within the pride are often born about the same time, so most cubs
end up being reared with other cubs in a "creche". Cubs are raised in
this "nursery area" shielded from bad weather and from hyenas or
leopards. One source says that "Cubs are nursed until they are 6 to 8
months old." Another that, "Cubs begin an all-meat diet at 4 mo."
Either way, at about 6-8 months, they begin to participate in hunts.
Cubs usually will not kill by themselves till they are over a year old.
However, they continue to be dependent on their mother until at least
16 months of age.
Based on observations conducted in the Serengeti from 1966 to 1991,
seven species represented over 90 % of the diet of lions. They were:
wildebeest, zebra, Thompson's gazelle, buffalo, warthog, kongoni
(hartebeest), and topi.
- Lion Research Lots of good stuff here! Very nice layout.
- Lions in Literature
- The constellation Leo and its mythology.
- Mountain Lions Yeah, yeah, I know this isn't the right kind. But interesting anyway. After all a Big cat is a big Cat.
- Here is a good site with quotes and interesting lion facts intermingled with pics ready for your desktop. Good links there too!
The Ghost and the Darkness
- Excellent link How the film came to be, Separating Fact from Fiction, and a short technical review.
- The true story! of The Ghost and the Darkness.
- Pictures and descriptions of the Tsavo maneaters displayed at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.
Following are some of my favorite scriptures about lions:
This is how I feel about the great king of beasts. He is indeed
powerful and stately.
Proverbs 30:29, 30
There are three things that are stately in their stride,
four that move with stately bearing:
a lion, mighty among beasts, who retreats before nothing...
I would be as this great creature. Not powerful for power's sake but
mighty in my resolve to do good and great things. Bold to speak the
truth in love.
The wicked man flees thou no one persues,
but the righteous are as bold as a lion.
But the next verse reminds me to keep this in perspective. Even the
lion is flesh. Keep my mind on right things. Also I am reminded to
Anyone who is among the living has hope
--even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!
But THE most important scripture to remember tells us of a great hope,
a hope in the messiah.
...See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, ... has triumphed.