Lions | 360°

The lion (Panthera leo) is a carnivorous mammal of the felidae family and one of the five species of the genus Panthera. Wild lions live in increasingly dispersed and fragmented populations of sub-Saharan Africa (except for the jungle regions of the Atlantic coast and the Congo Basin) and a small area of ​​northwestern India (a critically endangered population in the Park National Forest of Gir and surroundings), having disappeared from the rest of South Asia, West Asia, North Africa and the Balkan Peninsula in historical times. Until the late Pleistocene, approximately 10,000 years ago, of the great land mammals, the lion was the most widespread after humans. Its distribution covered most of Africa, much of Eurasia, from western Europe to India, and in America, from the Yukon River to southern Mexico.

If the difficulties of childhood survive, lionesses living in a safe habitat, such as the Kruger National Park, can often reach the age of 12-14, while lions rarely live more than eight years. However, cases of lionesses who have lived up to twenty years in the wild are known. In captivity, both males and females can live more than twenty years. They usually live in savannas and grasslands, even when they can enter bushy and wooded areas. Lions are especially social animals compared to other felids. A pack of lions is made up of females that have a family relationship, their young and a small number of adult males. Lionesses usually hunt together, in a group, mainly attacking large ungulates. The lion is a superpredator and key, although he can have a scavenger behavior if he has the opportunity. Even though lions do not normally hunt humans selectively, some of them can become man-eating and seek human prey.

The lion is a vulnerable species and, in its African distribution, over the last two decades it has suffered a decline in populations, possibly irreversible, between 30% and 50%; the populations are not viable outside the delimited reserves and national parks. Although the cause of this decline is not fully understood, habitat loss and conflicts with humans are currently the most important concerns. Lions have been held in captivity since the time of Ancient Rome, and since the end of the 18th century they have been a highly sought after species and exhibited in zoos all over the world. The zoos themselves are collaborating on breeding programs to protect the threatened Asian subspecies.

Males are very easy to distinguish thanks to their mane, which makes their head one of the most widely known animal symbols of human culture. It appears very often in literature, sculpture, painting, national flags, and contemporary films and literature.

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