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The Lion Path

African Lion
Panthera leo krugeri
Order Carnivora


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.

Family 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 cubs.

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.

Lion Scriptures

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.

Proverbs 28:1
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 cherish life.

Ecclesiastes 9:4
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.

Revelation 5:5

...See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, ... has triumphed.

Back Home Jim Veronica David Jennifer