Interesting Facts on Lions
Latin name: Panthera leo
On average, the females live for 17 years, the males 15 years.
The oldest lion possibly recorded was a male living in a Zoo in Sri Lanka that reached a ripe old age of 26.
Lions living in Zoo's don't have the stress of defending territories against other prides and don't have to hunt for themselves, which could possibly be the reason for a longer lifespan.
Weight and weight records:
On average, adult lionesses weigh 150 kg, with larger adults reaching up to 180 kg. Females reach their prime maturity at about 5 years of age.
The average adult male weighs around 220 kg, with really large males reaching 280kg. Males reach their prime maturity at about 7 years.
The heaviest recorded wild lion in South Africa was a man-eating lion that was shot, just south of the Kruger National Park. He weighed in at 313kg.
The heaviest living lion today, if he is still alive, is a male that lives in a Canadian zoo weighing at 366kg.
The World Record is 375kg!
Zoo and circus lions in general are overweight from overfeeding and the lack of exercise.
Feeding and Diet:
Prey species vary from small to large mammals such as hares, monkeys, baboons, impala, gazelles, kudu, steenbok, duiker, zebra and wildebeest. Larger prides may specialize in hunting large game such as giraffe, hippo, rhino and elephant.
The lionesses do most of the hunting, they are also more successful when stalking prey as they have a better camouflage and are far more patient at hunting than the males are.
Mature males with dark manes have the disadvantage that they may be seen from a long distance by their prey, making stalking rather difficult, especially in the dry season.
The males are very capable of hunting and will often join the hunt when it involves large prey such as buffalo, rhino and elephant where the extra weight and power is needed to pull down these animals.
Once a kill is made the males will often take over as they are stronger and larger and therefore take priority in feeding, leaving the females to feed off the scraps or nothing at all.
A mature lion is capable of consuming amounts of meat that are equivalent to 10% of its own body mass, tucking in as much as 25kg on one feeding! Once a lion has eaten as much as it can, it starts to breathe very rapidly, this is as a result of the stomach being so full and putting pressure on the ribcage which makes breathing more difficult. The heavy breathing cools down the lion and slows its metabolism down as well. On a full stomach a lion can go 4 days quite comfortably without having to hunt again.
The under-part of the lions’ belly is very light in colour, almost white and when their bellies are full they will often lay down on their backs exposing the lighter colour to the sun. The light colour absorbs less heat from the sun, thus keeping them cooler, especially in areas with limited shade. Lying on their backs also helps with the uncomfortable pressure off their full stomachs.
On a hot day lions will often lick the pads of their feet, especially the front feet and then turn them upwards to cool them down in the breeze.
From standstill too sprinting, a lion can reach a speed of close on 80km/h in just 3 seconds! It can run at this speed for 300 - 400 meters.
Interesting Lion Theory:
In many game reserves in Africa there are over-populations of lion and what is often noticeable is how many of the pregnant females are giving birth to more male cubs than females. On average a mother will give birth to three cubs, normally 2 females and 1 male, but in over-populated areas this is often the reverse with the mother giving birth to 2 males and 1 female cub.
Over a period of time as the population increases, there will be far too many males. At the age of about 3 and a half years these males will be forced out of their prides by their parents and then start living a nomadic life until they are old enough to fight for their own territories.
Competition between the males is very tough with there being so many of them in the same area and not enough space, resulting in more fighting and thus an increase in the male mortality rate. Gradually the male lion population will drop, leaving only the strong and healthy ones behind. At the same time, with there being so few female cubs, this will also slow the population growth as there are now fewer females to give birth to their own young in the future.
So nature seems to control its own animal numbers is some way or another.