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The Natural Environment of African Lions

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Numbers of African lions (Panthera leo) in the wild are thought to be dropping, and the species' population is considered "vulnerable." One primary reason for this is ruination of habitat, in many instances due to agricultural expansion. Despite all of this, at least 21,000 of these grand felines still live in their natural environments.

Basic Information on African Lions

African lions are sizable felines who usually weigh somewhere between 265 and 420 pounds. Females usually aren't as heavy or as tall as the males. Male and female specimens are easy to differentiate physically regardless of size, as the males sport famous manes that can be anything from tan to black in coloration. Lions' coats, overall, are yellowish-brown, although their lower portions are markedly paler. When it comes to tracking down food, the female specimens do most of the work, going after prey such as zebras, wild hogs and rhinoceroses.


African lions inhabit the portion of Africa that is below the Sahara Desert, in the bulk of its nations. They live in countries such as Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Cote d'Ivoire, Namibia, South Africa, Malawi and many others. In history, African lions also resided from northern Africa into Asia -- think Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. One subspecies can still be found in Asia, the Indian lion (Panthera leo persica) of its namesake land. African lions are presently totally absent from northern Africa, however.

Natural Habitat

These social cats take up residence in many different kinds of habitats, barring rain forests and deserts. African lions are tend to gravitate toward grassy plains that are home to ample prey animals. Plentiful cover is also a prerequisite for them. Other typical living environments for African lions are semidesert, scrubland, mountains, airy woodlands and forests.

Social Animals

African lions are, within the feline world, anomalies. Cats generally are solitary, but African lions are highly companionable. They exist within sizable social units referred to as prides. These prides often consist of more than 20 individuals. They're generally made up of numerous females, their offspring, and between one and three males. Mature females in prides generally are kin. The males in prides usually only are temporary additions, staying for roughly three years or so. They are always replaced by new males. The males serve to defend the group and also to watch over turf.