Friday, September 23, 2011


File:Lion waiting in Namibia.jpg
Figure 1 male lion
File:Okonjima Lioness.jpg
Figure 2 female lion
The lion (Panthera leo) is one of the four big cats in the genus Panthera, and a member of the family Felidae. With some males exceeding 250 kg (550 lb) in weight, it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger. Wild lions currently exist in Sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia with an endangered remnant population in Gir Forest National Park in India, having disappeared from North Africa and Southwest Asia in historic times. Until the late Pleistocene, about 10,000 years ago, the lion was the most widespread large land mammal after humans. They were found in most of Africa, across Eurasia from western Europe to India, and in the Americas from the Yukon to Peru.[5] The lion is a vulnerable species, having seen a possibly irreversible population decline of thirty to fifty percent over the past two decades in its African range. Lion populations are untenable outside designated reserves and national parks. Although the cause of the decline is not fully understood, habitat loss and conflicts with humans are currently the greatest causes of concern. Within Africa, the West African lion population is particularly endangered.
Lions live for ten to fourteen years in the wild, while in captivity they can live longer than twenty years. In the wild, males seldom live longer than ten years, as injuries sustained from continual fighting with rival males greatly reduce their longevity.[6] They typically inhabit savanna and grassland, although they may take to bush and forest. Lions are unusually social compared to other cats. A pride of lions consists of related females and offspring and a small number of adult males. Groups of female lions typically hunt together, preying mostly on large ungulates. Lions are apex and keystone predators, although they scavenge as opportunity allows. While lions do not typically hunt humans, some have been known to do so.
Highly distinctive, the male lion is easily recognised by its mane, and its face is one of the most widely recognised animal symbols in human culture. Depictions have existed from the Upper Paleolithic period, with carvings and paintings from the Lascaux and Chauvet Caves, through virtually all ancient and medieval cultures where they once occurred. It has been extensively depicted in sculptures, in paintings, on national flags, and in contemporary films and literature. Lions have been kept in menageries since the time of the Roman Empire and have been a key species sought for exhibition in zoos the world over since the late eighteenth century. Zoos are cooperating worldwide in breeding programs for the endangered Asiatic subspecies.

P. leo
The lion's name, similar in many Romance languages, is derived from the Latin leo; and the Ancient Greek λέων (leon). The Hebrew word לָבִיא (lavi) may also be related.[  It was one of the many species originally described by Linnaeus, who gave it the name Felis leo, in his eighteenth century work, Systema Naturae.[

Taxonomy and evolution

The lion is a species of the genus Panthera and its closest relatives are the other species of this genus: the tiger, the jaguar, and the leopard. Panthera leo itself evolved in Africa between 1 million and 800,000 years ago, before spreading throughout the Holarctic region. It appeared in the fossil record in Europe for the first time 700,000 years ago with the subspecies Panthera leo fossilis at Isernia in Italy. From this lion derived the later Cave Lion (Panthera leo spelaea), which appeared about 300,000 years ago. Lions died out in northern Eurasia at the end of the last glaciation, about 10,000 years ago this may have been secondary to the extinction of Pleistocene megafauna.
 (Taken from wikipedia)
African Lion
Lions are unique in that they are the only cats to live in groups (prides). They are the largest member of the cat family and the largest of all the African carnivores. They are the top predator in any African ecosystem where they live.
Photo by Villiers Steyn
Description and Characteristics:
Lions are Tawny in colour, varying from silvery yellow to reddish brown with paler undersides (female belly yellowish to almost white); yellow to black mane. Faint, leopard like spots are generally found on the young which is sometimes kept into maturity.

Males have thick mane around the head that extend down the chest between the forelegs and varies in colour from blond to black, whereas females do not have manes

Lions have massive shoulders and strong forelimbs, long, sharp claws, and short, powerful jaws. A Lions' roar can be heard by humans more than 8 km away.

Prides of lions are generally composed of related females, whilst a typical prides contains around 13 lions, large prides can contain as many as 40 lions, while some prides will have a few as two members. A prides home range varies in size from 20-400 km².

Lions are mainly nocturnal and are reputed to sleep or rest for about 20 hours a day. You will often find them lying under a shady bush, particularly after they've fed following a kill.
Feeding/drinking Habits:
As carnivores, feeding entirely on the flesh of other mammals, lions have 30 teeth, including large piercing canines to grab and kill prey, scissor like molars to slice into flesh, and small incisors to scrape meat from bones. Much of their hunting is done at night and in the very early dawn. When feeding on a large kill, a lion can eat almost 36 kg of meat in one feeding and then not need to eat for several days. On average, a lion needs to eat about 5 kg of meat daily.
The lion is found throughout the south Sahara desert and in parts of southern and eastern Africa. They are generally seen on grassy plains, savannas, and dry woodlands but never seen in heavily forested areas. The lion can be found in most of the National Parks and Reserves in Africa. Size & Lifespan
Males reach up to a shoulder height of 1.2meters and weight between 150-250kgs, females are smaller and reach a shoulder height of 1.05m and weigh up between 120 -180 kgs. Lions live for 12-16 years in the wild and 25 years in captivity.
A lioness has a gestation period of about 110 days, after which she can gives birth to up to four cubs. Generally she gives birth in secluded areas away from the group and introduces the cubs to the pride when they are about eight weeks old. Very often, several females give birth at about the same time, and they share the duties of protecting and nursing the cubs. Mothers nurse for up to 8 months, although they begin to take cubs to eat at animal kills when they are as young as 3 months old. At about 11 months of age, cubs start learning to hunt with the pride. Females take care of their young until they are about two, when the mother is ready to produce a new litter.
Predators and Threats:
Although the population of lions is declining, they are not currently listed as endangered or threatened. Threats include hunting, loss of habitat and human encroachment.
Physical Appearance
The lion’s scientific name, Felis concolor, means "cat of one color." Mountain lions in this area are usually tawny to light-cinnamon in color with black-tipped ears and tail.
Mountain lions vary in size and weight, with males being larger than females. Adult males may be more than 8 feet in length and weight an average of 150 pounds. Adult females may be up to 7 feet long and weight an average of 90 pounds.
Mountain lions are easily distinguished from other wild cat species in Colorado. Lions are much larger than lynx or bobcats and have a long tail, which may measure one-third of their total, length.
In an unhurried walk, lions usually place the hind paw in the imprint made by the front paw. They have 4 toes with 3 distinct lobes present at the base of the pad. Generally claw marks are not visible since their claws are retractable.
Generally, the mountain lion is a solitary animal. Adult males almost always travel alone. If tracks indicate two or more lions traveling together, it’s probably a female with kittens.
The mountain lion’s habitat ranges from desert, chaparral and badlands breaks to subalpine mountains and tropical rain forests.
In Colorado, lions are found in areas of pinion pine, juniper, mountain mahogany, ponderosa pine and oak brush. Lions generally will be most abundant in areas with plentiful deer.
Individual lions range in areas varying in size from 10 to 370 square miles. Females with young kittens use the smallest areas; adult males occupy the largest areas.
Size of the home range depends on the terrain and how much food is available. Boundaries of male home range are marked with piles of dirt and twigs, called scrapes, which signal to other lions that this area is occupied.
Hunting and Feeding Habits
Lions are most active from dusk to dawn, although they travel and hunt in the daylight. Lions prefer to eat deer, however, they also kill elk, porcupines, small mammals, livestock and a variety of domestic animals such as pets.
Mountain lions prefer to kill their own prey. Like most cats, they take their prey by ambush rather than by a long pursuit. After spotting prey, a lion stalks using available cover, then attacks with a rush, often from behind.
Lions usually kill with a powerful bite below the base of the skull, breaking the neck. Lions drag the carcass to a sheltered spot beneath a tree or overhang to feed on it. They cover the carcass with dirt, leaves or snow and may return to feed on it over the course of a few days. generally, they move the carcass and re-cover it after each feeding.
Lions feeding on a kill can be dangerous to people. Lions that have been fed by people or seen "tame" may become aggressive unexpectedly.
Mating and Breeding
Female lions generally reproduce when they are about 2-1/2 years old.
Courtship begins when a roaming female in heat makes frequent sounds and leaves a scent that attracts males. After locating the female, the male accompanies her for just a few days when mating occurs.
Breeding can take place throughout the year but most females give birth between April and July, following a 3 month gestation period.
Birth to Maturity
The female gives birth to an average of 2 to 3 young called kittens. She usually chooses a secluded spot beneath an uprooted tree or a rocky depression. Care of the kittens rests solely with with the females. She defends them vigorously against males lions, which may kill them.
New born kittens are about 1 foot long and weigh about 1 pound. They are covered with blackish-brown spots and have dark rings around their short tails. The young stir only to nurse until they are about 2 weeks old, when their eyes open and they become alert and playful. Weaning occurs at about 2 months.
Kittens learn hunting skills through play and exploration, and by watching their mother. When the young are about 6 weeks old, she begins taking them to her kills to feed.
As the kittens mature, their spots fade. At 6 months, they weigh over 30 pounds and are becoming capable hunters. Kittens remain with their mother for another year, improving their hunting skills.
When Mountain Lions Meet People
Generally, lions are calm, quiet and elusive. They tend to live in remote, primitive country. Lions are most commonly found in areas with plentiful deer and adequate cover. Such conditions exist in mountain subdivisions; the number of mountain lion/human interactions has increased. This increase is likely due to a variety of reasons: more people moving into lion habitat, increase in deer populations and density, presumed increase in lion numbers and expanded range, more people using hiking and running trails in lion habitat and greater awareness of the presence of lions.
What to do if you Live in Lion Country
We can live with these incredibly efficient predators if we respect mountain lions and their habitat. To reduce the risk of problems with mountain lions on or near your property, we urge you to follow these simple precautions.
Make lots of noise if you come and go during the times mountain lions are most active-dusk to dawn.
Install outside lighting. Light areas where you walk so you could see a lion of one were present.
Closely supervise children whenever they play outdoors. Make sure children are inside before dusk and not outside before dawn. Talk with children about lions and teach them what to do if they meet one.
Landscape or remove vegetation to eliminate hiding places for lions, especially around children’s play areas. make it difficult for lions to approach unseen.
Planting non-native shrubs and plants that deer often prefer to eat encourages wildlife to come onto your property. Predators follow prey.
Don't Feed any Wildlife
Keep your pet under control. Roaming pets are easy prey and can attract lions. Bring pets in at night. If you leave your pets outside, keep it in a kennel with a secure top. Don’t feed pets outside; this can attract raccoons and other animals that are eaten by lions. Store all garbage securely.
Place livestock in enclosed sheds or barns at night. Close doors to all outbuildings since inquisitive lions may go inside for a look.
Encourage your neighbours to follow these simple precautions. Prevention is far better than a possible lion confrontation.
What to do if you Meet a Mountain Lion
People rarely get more than a brief glimpse of a mountain lion in the wild. Lion attacks on people are rare, with fewer than a dozen fatalities in North America in more than 100 years. Most of the attacks were by young lions, perhaps forced out to hunt on their own and not yet living in established areas. Young lions may key in on easy prey, like pets and small children.
(Taken from
DNR Indiana Department of Natural Resources
An Equal Opportunity Employer
Printed on Recycled Paper
Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr., Governor
Robert E. Carter, Jr., Director
Mountain Lion Facts
The mountain lion (Puma concolor) is known by many names, including cougar, puma, catamount and panther. Historically, mountain
lions lived throughout much of the eastern United States, including Indiana. One source – Mammals of Indiana (2009) by John O.
Whitaker Jr. and Russell E. Mumford – states that the last recorded wild mountain lion in Indiana was from DeKalb County in 1864.
The mountain lion is a very large, slender cat with a small head. The ears are rounded, small, and are not tufted, and the back of the
ears are all black to dark gray. The adult coat is a uniform tan or tawny color with a white or cream colored chin, undersides, and
inside the legs. The long tail is up to half the total body length, thick, with the last several inches tipped black. The total length of a
mountain lion is 5 - 8 ½ feet with a weight on average from 75 – 160 pounds. Adults average about 30 inches high at the shoulder.
Mountain lions do not have a melanistic  (black) version. Any large black cat, similar in size to a mountain lion, would either have to
be jaguar or leopard, both of which are not indigenous to the United States. Such individuals would have had to escape from captivity.
The Division of Fish and Wildlife is not aware of any jaguars or leopards that have escaped from permitted individuals.
The Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife has never stocked or released mountain lions in Indiana, nor does it plan to.
What We Know
Data collected by the Cougar Network and other states over the past decade, suggest that mountain lions are beginning to appear in
states outside their traditional western range, including Midwestern and Southeastern states. It is suspected that this expansion is the
result of an increasing mountain lion population due to increased legal protection and greater availability of primary prey species such
as deer.
The chance of encountering a mountain lion today in Indiana is almost non-existent. There is no confirmed evidence of mountain
lions attacking livestock, pets, or people in Indiana. There is no confirmed evidence of a reproducing population in Indiana. There are
individuals that have obtained permits to legally maintain captive mountain lions, and there are likely individuals that have captive
animals illegally. Other states also have captive mountain lions. There are instances of these animals escaping or being intentionally
released by their owner. A previously captive mountain lion could survive on the abundant deer in Indiana. Again, these would be
extremely rare and isolated instances.
A mountain lion was confirmed in a rural part of Greene County northeast of Bloomfield when multiple images of an individual
mountain lion were captured on camera by the Division of Fish and Wildlife on May 1, 2010. The origin of this animal is unknown
and it is likely surviving on deer that it kills.
The legal status of the mountain lion in Indiana is that of an exotic mammal and, as a result, is protected. State law allows a resident
landowner or tenant to kill a mountain lion while it is causing damage to property owned or leased by the landowner or tenant. If the
landowner/tenant wishes to have someone else take the mountain lion, that person is required to secure a permit from the DNR
Division of Fish & Wildlife. Any mountain lion killed should be reported to the DNR immediately.
So, You Have Seen a Mountain Lion
The Division of Fish and Wildlife has initiated a mountain lion reporting procedure to maintain information of possible mountain lion
sightings. A report can be made with any DNR office or biologist. Only those reports accompanied with a clear, verifiable picture of
a mountain lion (the location must be verifiable as well); a picture or plaster cast of the mountain lion tracks; or other specific
mountain lion behavior will be field investigated. Reports not having such evidence will be entered into the database as unconfirmed
The DNR annually receives reports of mountain lion sightings around the state, but typically the evidence has turned out to be
something other than a mountain lion such as a housecat, dog, or coyote, has been inconclusive, or has proved to be part of an Internet
DNRIndiana Department of Natural Resources
An Equal Opportunity Employer
Printed on Recycled Paper
Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr., Governor
Robert E. Carter, Jr., Director

While the DNR recognizes that the prospect of mountain lions is cause for alarm to many citizens, the likelihood of such an encounter
with a mountain lion in Indiana is very remote. Remember that mountain lions are reclusive animals, even in the areas where there
are breeding populations in western states, so there is little likelihood for this animal to be seen in large cities, neighborhoods, and
Areas where there are humans.
While the chance of encountering a mountain lion today in Indiana is almost non-existent, people should be alert to their surroundings.
If an encounter does happen, advice from authorities in Western states, where mountain lions are more common, is:
  • Do not approach a mountain lion. Give it a way to escape.
  • Do not run from a mountain lion. Instead, stand and face the animal. Make eye contact.
  • Do not crouch or bend over. Do all you can to appear larger. Raise your arms, open your jacket or shirt. Wave your arms
  • Slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice.
  • Hold children and pets near you.
  •  Fight back if attacked using big sticks, stones, or any other available items.
More Mountain Lion Information
For additional information on mountain lions, visit the Cougar Network at, or go to for an identification guide that describes how to distinguish mountain lion tracks
 from other animals.

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