As a famous symbol of bravery, the lion has been revered in the animal kingdom for centuries. Their image has made an immortal mark in history. They are the second largest big cat species in the world. Among other things, they are renowned for inspiring fear in observers.
An adult male can weigh up to 500 pounds or more. Females can weigh about 340 pounds. What sets lions apart from other cats is that they are social by nature. They live in a group called a pride. Prides are made up of numerous females, young, and usually one or two males. Strong family bonds help to ensure survival. Lion cubs can be vulnerable to predators such as hyenas, leopards, baboons, or other male lions. Males will kill cubs that aren't their own to encourage the females to mate with them. Threats like these are why the pride leader must be vigilant and fiercely protective of his family. Even herbivores such as cape buffalo can be a deadly threat to cubs.
A lion's mane is more than just for good looks. It serves as armor when in combat against other lions. The thick fur helps block slashing claws, powerful blows from paws, and potentially lethal bites.
An excellent social structure is needed when on the hunt. Females do most of the hunting, however. On rare occasions, the male will join in on taking down prey during a chase. The pride will hunt strategically to ensure success. Some of their prey include warthogs, antelope, cape buffalo, giraffe, gazelle, and zebra. With the cooperation of the pride and their combined strength, they can even bring down an adult elephant.
There is always the risk of encountering an intruder. To mark their defined space, lions will scent mark trees and bushes with their urine. A wandering male lion will smell these marked areas and know that the land is taken. More famously, the lions will announce their presence by roaring, which can be heard from 5 miles away. Any lion within earshot may be discouraged from entering any further.
The African lion is one of the many endangered species in our world. One of the greatest threats to lions is illegal poaching. Hunters looking for profit will go the distance to kill a lion. Trophy hunting is also a significant threat to the survival of lions. Today, only 5% of the lion's original home range in Africa is inhabited by the lions. National parks, where lions can be protected, help lion populations in Africa today. Conservation efforts such as this help bring people closer to these magnificent animals and recognize their unique role in the environment.