Inhabiting the savannas of sub-Saharan Africa, the lion, one of the wildest animals, has always been admired for its nobility, loyalty, skill, strength, and bravery. Besides, this carnivorous mammal belonging to the felid family, after the tiger, is the second-largest feline.
Characteristics of the lion, one of the wildest animals
Differentiated by his calm personality, the lion, one of the wildest animals , with its reddish mane, impressive roar, huge fangs of the devourer, sharp claws and a tassel of hairs at the end of its tail, can reach a weight between 200 and 300 kilos.
At the same time, it distinguishes itself from other felines by being sociable, as it is given to live in herds led by an adult male and composed of several females with their puppies descendants. In this sense, when young males have the age to mate, they are forced to leave the group to form their flock.
In addition, the lion is not an active animal, but rather rests for about 20 hours a day, and the rest of the time it is used for eating, walking, cleaning or socializing, allowing each member to fulfill an essential assignment within the herd, as hunters, caretakers, protectors or explorers of the environment.
On the other hand, they use various types of sound to communicate with each other, such as roaring, grunting, purring and whining, which according to their intensity can indicate danger, fear, anger, and even the availability to mate.
How the lion is fed
The lion, often hunts in groups, being able to create strategies to surround their prey, increasing the possibility of obtaining large hunts, which can feed the entire herd.
Concerning it, the lioness realizes this task, being physically apt to execute maneuvers and movements coordinated with the rest of the group, achieving that the hunt is all a spectacle worthy of admiring, while, the lion can only run fast speeds for short periods.
Likewise, at mealtime, there is a hierarchy that begins with the female hunters, followed by the lion king, and so on with the rest of the group to reach the most puppies, in fact, when food is scarce, are the young who exclude themselves from feeding.
The technique used by the lion to hunt its prey is to suffocate them by holding them by the throat, pressing very hard until the breath is obstructed, being the most appetizing wildebeests, zebras, impalas, buffaloes, and deer, always concentrating on young, weak or older animals.
The wildest lions in history
We have already seen that the lion, one of the most feared wild animals, feeds on other animals, but also attacks humans, in this sense, man does not have the same speed as a gazelle becomes easy prey.
Consequently, only about 100 people die each year in Tanzania, but the curious thing is that it is the male lions which have developed a taste for human flesh.
Around this topic, there is a list of the most famous killer lions, including the following:
- The White Lion, was a great devourer of men who lost half his tail, killing 90 people from several villages.
- Tsavo Lions, being the most recognized, more than 140 men were devoured in the population of Tsavo, in Kenya, in 1898.
Despite this, most of the time, the lion, one of the wildest animals living in the jungle, has been seen positively throughout history, coming to symbolize loyalty or power, in shields or banners of arms.
How many types of lions are there in the world?
Currently, one type of lion (Panthera leo) survives, from which 7 subspecies derive, although many more have existed. Some species became extinct thousands of years ago, while others have disappeared because of humans. Besides, all surviving lion species are in danger of extinction.
This number corresponds to the lions belonging to the feline family, but did you know that there are also types of sea lions? That is right! As for this marine animal, there are 7 genera with various species.
Now that you know how many types of lions there are, we invite you to get to know them. Let us go!
Different types of lions
The subspecies of lion that currently exist and are recognized by the various official organizations are:
- Katanga Lion
- Congo Lion
- Transvaal Lion
- Barbary Lion
- Nubian Lion
- Asian Lion
- West African Lion
Next, we will tell you the characteristics of each type of lion.
1- Katanga Lion
Among the types of lions and their characteristics, the Katanga Lion or Angola’s (Panthera leo bleyenberghi) is distributed in southern Africa. It is a large subspecies, capable of reaching up to 280 kilos in males, although the average is 200 kilos.
As far as its appearance is concerned, it has a characteristic sand color and a dense and imposing mane. The outside area of the mane can appear in a combination of light chestnut with coffee.
2- Congo Lion
The Congo lion (Panthera leo azandica), also called the Central African lion, is a subspecies that is distributed in the plains of the African continent, especially in Uganda and the Republic of Congo.
It is characterized by measuring between 2 meters and 50 centimeters and 2 meters and 80 centimeters. It also weighs between 150 and 190 kilos.
Males have the characteristic mane, although less leafy than other varieties of a lion. The color of the coat ranges from natural sand to dark chestnut.
3- Transvaal Lion
The Panthera leo krugeri, called Transvaal, from South Africa or African lion, is a variety of southern Africa, sister of the lion of Katanga, although larger. The males of this species reach up to 2 meters and 50 centimeters long.
Although they have the typical sand color in the fur, from this variety comes the rare white lion. The white lion is a mutation of the krugeri, so the white coat appears from a recessive gene.
Despite their beauty, they are vulnerable in the wild, as the light color is difficult to camouflage in the savannah.
4- Barbary Lion
Also called the Atlas lion (Panthera leo leo), it is a subspecies that became extinct in the wild around 1942.
It is suspected that there are several specimens in zoos, such as the specimens found in Rabat (Morocco). However, crossing with other lion subspecies complicates the task of pure breeding individuals of the Atlas lion.
According to records, this subspecies is one of the largest, characterized by a large, leafy mane. It lived both in the savannas and in the African jungles.
5- Nubian Lion
Another type of lion that still exists is the Panthera leo nubica, a variety that inhabits East Africa.
Their body weight is between the average of the species, that is, between 150 and 200 kilos. The male of this subspecies has an abundant mane, darker on the outside.
A curious fact about this species is that it is one of the felines used for the famous logo of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) was a Nubian lion.
6- Asian Lion
The Asian lion (Panthera leo persica) is originally from Africa, although today it can be found in zoos and reserves in various parts of the world.
This variety is smaller than other types of lions and has a lighter coat, with the reddish mane in males.
It is currently among the endangered lion types due to habitat reduction, poaching, and rivalry with people in the areas where it lives.
7- West African Lion
The latest in this list of different types of lions and their characteristics is the Panthera leo senegalensis or West African lion. It lives in herds and measures about 3 meters, including the tail.
This variety is in danger of extinction due to poaching and the expansion of cities, which decreases the amount of prey available.
Lions in Danger of Extinction
All types of lions are in danger of extinction, some in a more critical state than others. Over the years, wild populations have declined, and even captive births are rare.
Reasons that threaten the lion and its subspecies include:
- Expansion of commercial and residential areas that reduce the natural habitat of the lion.
- The decrease in the species that feed the lion.
- Introduction of other species or rivalry with other predators by prey
- Expansion of agriculture and livestock.
- War and military conflicts in the habitat of the lion.
This complete list with features also includes those missing species. Next, meet the extinct lions.
Unfortunately, several species of lions have ceased to exist for various reasons, some due to human action. These are the extinct types of lions:
- Black Lion
- Cave Lion
- Panthera leo fossilis
- American Lion
1- Black Lion
The Panthera leo melanochaitus, called the Black Lion or Cape Lion, is a subspecies declared extinct in 1860. Before disappearing, it inhabited southwestern South Africa. Although little is known about it, it weighed between 150 and 250 kilos and lived alone, contrary to the common herds of lions.
The males had a black mane that gave them their name. They disappeared from the African continent during the English colonization, as they became threatened by frequently attacking human populations.
Despite their extinction, lions in the Kalahari region are considered to have a genetic load from this species.
2- Cave Lion
The Panthera leo spelaea was a species found in the Iberian Peninsula, England, and Alaska.
It inhabited the Earth during the Pleistocene, 2.60 million years ago. There is evidence of its existence thanks to cave paintings 30,000 years ago and fossils found.
In general, its characteristics were similar to those of today’s lion: between 2.5 and 3 meters long, and 200 kilos in weight.
3- Panthera leo fossilis
The Panthera leo fossilis is another type of extinct lion extinguished in the Pleistocene.
It was up to 2.50 meters long and lived in Europe. It is one of the oldest extinct feline fossils ever found.
4- American Lion
The Panthera leo atrox was distributed throughout North America, where it may have arrived through the Bering Strait before the continents drifted. It may have been the largest lion species in history, as it is believed to have measured almost 4 meters and weighed between 350 and 400 kilos.
According to cave paintings found, this subspecies lacked mane or was very scarce. It disappeared during the massive extinction of the megafauna, which occurred in the Quaternary.
Other subspecies of extinct lions
These are other varieties of lions that are also extinct:
- Beringia Lion (Panthera leo vereshchagini)
- Sri Lanka Lion (Panthera leo sinhaleyus)
- Lion European (Panthera leo europaea)