This Wildlife Wednesday, learn about the African lion, and why the so-called "king of the jungle" needs our help.
Habitat: African grasslands and open woodlands
- Although the lion may be called the “king of the jungle,” it doesn’t live in the jungle per se—instead, it prefers grasslands and woodlands.
- While most wild cats live solitary lives, lions live in groups called prides led by up to three males. Females typically stay with the same pride their whole lives, whereas males will leave to find a new group to lead when they mature. All of the females in the group help take care of the young.
- The lion’s famous mane is only sported by the males.
- Lions can weigh up to 500 pounds!
- A single lion pride can claim up to 100 square miles as their territory for hunting. This means that habitat encroachment by humans can be extremely detrimental for both the lions and the humans.
- Males may act to defend the pride’s territory, but it’s the females who act as the hunters of the group. They often—but not always—hunt together to take down large prey such as antelopes and zebras. Sometimes lions even steal food that hyenas or wild dogs took down.
- According to National Geographic, while lions today live only in Africa—except for a small population of Asian lions in India—lions used to live in parts of Asia and Europe.
Why they’re threatened
Lions are listed as vulnerable, but new research is showing that lions are more threatened than previously thought. New research funded in part by National Geographic found that only 32,000 lions remain out of the 100,000 that were counted in the 1960s in Africa. This is because lions have less land due to more human population growth and land conversion. Another threat is hunting by humans.