Asiatic Lion

Think lions only live in Africa? Think again. Read about this small, endangered group of lions indigenous to India.

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Common Name: Asiatic Lion
Scientific Name: Panthera leo persica
Type: Mammals
Diet: Carnivore
Average life span in Captivity:  16 to 18 years.
Weight: 300 to 500 pounds

Size relative to a 6-ft man

IUCN Red List Status: 
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The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is widely recognized as the most comprehensive, objective global approach for evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species.

lc

Least Concern

At relatively low risk of extinction

nt

Near Threatened

Likely to become vulnerable in the near future

vu

Vulnerable

At high risk of extinction in the wild

en

Endangered

At very high risk of extinction in the wild

cr

Critically Endangered

At extremely high risk of extinction in the wild

ew

Extinct in the Wild

Survives only in captivity

ex

Extinct

No surviving individuals in the wild or in captivity

Data Deficient

Not enough information available to make an assessment

Not Evaluated

No assessment has been made

?
Endangered
lc
nt
vu
en
cr
ew
ex
least concernextinct
Current Population Trend: 

Stablearrow-right


Nearly all wild lions live in sub-Saharan Africa, but one small population of Asiatic lions exists in India's Gir Forest. Asiatic lions and African lions are subspecies of the same species.

Population

Asiatic lions once prowled from the Middle East to India. Now, only a fraction of these magnificent animals survive in the wild. The Gir Forest's dry teak woods were once a royal hunting ground. Today they are a reserve where these at-risk big cats are heavily protected.

Prides

Lions are the only cats that live in groups, called prides. Prides are family units that may include up to three males, a dozen or so females, and their young. All of a pride's lionesses are related and female cubs typically stay with the group as they age. Young males eventually leave and may establish their own prides by taking over a group headed by another male.

Males vs. Females

Only male lions boast manes, the impressive fringe of long hair that encircles their heads. Males defend the pride's territory. They mark the area with urine, roar menacingly to warn intruders, and chase off animals that encroach on their turf.

Female lions are the pride's primary hunters. They often work together to prey upon large mammals.

An Asiatic lion photographed at Kamla Nehru Zoological Garden in Ahmedabad, India

Lion Hunting

After the hunt, the group effort often degenerates to squabbling over the sharing of the kill, with cubs at the bottom of the pecking order. Young lions do not help the pride hunt until they are about a year old. Lions will hunt alone if the opportunity presents itself, and they also steal kills from hyenas or wild dogs.

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