This paper is about lions, an animal that, while nicknamed “The king of the jungle”, is also well-known for its beauty as well as its strength. Many have tried to put into words the sheer force of nature and fearlessness that this creature exerts and exemplifies. The old testament of the Bible describes bravery and courageousness in Proverb 28:1, “The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the Godly are as bold as lion”. The lion is a member of the cat family.
Panthera Leo is the scientific name for a lion (Kays 1). Lions are very amazing, beautiful animals that symbolize many leadership qualities and also exhibits true strength in numbers.
Lions are massive warriors that unquestionably show their dominants in their size. While a tiny, little baby lion known as a cub doesn’t open its eyes when it is born until 4 to 11 days, a tall massive adult lion stands at 1.2 meters high or 3.9 feet at the shoulder area with all four legs on the ground (Kays 3).
The adult lion that stands at 3.9 feet can be compared to the average height of a 6 year old (Children Clothing Sizes 1). Male lions on average are 2.7 meters in length or approximately 9 feet long (Lion Facts 3). A 9 foot lion can be compared to the average length of an American alligator from head to tail. Although male lions are usually a little bit taller than female lions, male lions aren’t the only ones that show strength in size; females of the lion pride do, too.
A female lion, defined in the dictionary, as a lioness stands at 0.9 meters high or 2.9 feet at the shoulder area with all four legs on the ground (Kays 3); that is the average height of an 18 month old (Children Clothing Sizes 1). Lionesses on average are 2.4 meters in length approximately 8 feet long. Lions are huge animals and that makes them intimidating because of their size, which can come in handy when they use it to their advantage. Lion cubs are very small at birth weighing around two to three pounds. Adult male lions weigh between 170 to 230 kilograms or 370 to 500 pounds (Kays 3), which is the size of a full grown Grizzly Bear. Lionesses are also large in size weighing at 120 to 180 kilograms or 264 to 396 pounds (Kays 3), which is the same size as an adult tiger. Lions have many different body coverings; the colors of their coats are very unique. The traditional color that may be seen on a lions coat is a buff yellow or an orange brown, but they can be a silvery gray and a dark brown (Kays 3). The male’s outstanding body covering that the lioness does not possess is his mane. The mane may boarder the face of the Lion or it may be thick and bushy, along the back of the head, neck, shoulders, throat and chest (Kays 2). “In some lions the mane and fringe are very dark, almost black, giving the cat a majestic appearance. Manes make males look larger and may serve to intimidate rivals or impress prospective mates” (Kays 3).
Most Lions walk on their toes; soft pads are on each paw making its movement quiet (Lion Facts 3). A large Lion can have claws 1.5 inches or more from beginning to end along the arch of the nail. Lion claws are retractable and extremely sharp, this helps maintain the sharpness of the claws and stops injury when the lion are at play (Lion Facts 4). Lions like most cats, have little capability to move their eyes side to side, and must shift their head to look in the opposite direction. In addition the eyes are also well adjusted for use under very little light, this helps the lion pursue its prey at night. A lion’s eyes do not glow in the dark but contains a special reflective coating that will reflect even in moonlight (Lion Facts 4). “Lions usually roar between dusk and dawn. They roar to stay in touch with companions and to advertise their location and strength to rivals. Lions are sensitive to numbers, so they are able to discriminate the roars of large groups from those of small groups. They can also distinguish the roars of companions from those of strangers” (Daily Life 3).
Lions are big animals with very big appetites. “Lions are believed to feed every three or four days, and need on average between 5kg and 7kg of meat a day. But they can go without food for more than a week and then tear into prey, eating uo to 50kg of meat at a time, that’s almost a quarter of the animal’s body weight” (Kruger Nation Park Wildlife Facts 2). They eat baboons, water buffalo, zebras, hippopotamuses, antelopes, even the smallest of animals, rodents (Kays 6). Because lions have a big appetite and eat most of the population of the animals that live in their habitat, they are at the very top of their food chain and are considered predators. According to the dictionary, “A food chain is a hierarchical series of organisms each dependent on the next as a source of food, and predator is an animal that hunts and kills other animals for food”. A lion is considered a top predator, thus it has little or no natural enemies (What’s for dinner 1). Lions live and hunt in groups called prides, which consist of an estimated 15 lions (Basic Facts about Lions 2). They work in teams to stalk and ambush prey. Lions are most likely to hunt in the dark (night) and/or in the early dawn, and the lioness do almost all of the hunting (Basic Facts about Lions 2). Lionesses stay within the pride all of their life but the male lions either leaves on their own or are forced to leave by the pride males at two to three years of age (African Wildlife Detective 4). Watching the coordinated efforts of the female lionesses during hunting is very interesting. Just like players on a football field they each have a role to complete and know what position to take. Lions have established two primary hunting techniques. “The first the lion stalks from cover to cover with a final burst of speed at the end. The second method is to find a bush close to something the prey needs – usually water – climb in and wait” (How Lions Hunts 2). If one of them doesn’t play their part correctly then it can result in the prey escaping. It can also result in one of the lions being injured or killed. Hunting accuracy is key because lions can run fast but only for short of time (Lion Feeding 1).
Lions live in many different habitats such as: grassland, the savannah and bushy regions. In wild habitats lions live in the sub Sahara terrain of Africa and Asia where they live among the and the grasslands, often in areas where it is extremely dry and hot most of the year (Lion and Distribution 1). Lions prefer grassland and savannah habitats in close proximity to water sources, such as rivers, however they do not live in the rainforest (African Lions 1). Sometimes they do live in bushy regions and at the lower areas of the mountains. They may move to areas that are not normally for them in order to survive when food sources are low or their habitat is taken them (Lion Habitat and Distribution 1) In the reproduction process lions have a mating ritual, a gestation period and the mother and father roles are very different. At the age of two or three years old Lions become sexually cognizant (Lion Facts 8).
The Lioness is very open to reproducing for three or four days within a generally flexible reproductive cycle. During the mating process, the lion and lioness are always together and they generally do not eat. The mating ritual is a very painful for the female. The pain is necessary for mating as it is the shock to the lioness system that induces ovulation and permits fertilization (Lion 1). The copulating begins with growling, clawing and even biting, the actual copulation takes six to ten seconds; the cycle may repeat itself every twenty to thirty minutes with up to 50 sexual mating acts per 24 hours (Kays 8). If the lioness does not get pregnant the cycle will repeat in 90 days, however if the lioness does get pregnant the incubation period is about 108 days, and the size of the liter is from one to six cubs with, two to four being normal (Kays 8). When it is time to give birth a lioness leaves her pride and has her lion cubs in well cover shelter. The cubs remain hidden for one to two months before they are brought back with to the rest of the pride (Kay 8). Many of the lionesses in a pride give birth around the same time and care for, protect and feed each other’s cubs, as well as teach the cubs to hunt. Male lions generally do not participate in the raising of the cubs; they will however protect cubs from danger (Lion Reproduction 3). If a lion loses control of its pride the first thing the new male will do is kill all the lions’ cubs, this is done because lioness does not become sexually aroused again until their cubs mature or die. Thus, the only way the usurper lion can produce more cubs is to make the lioness aroused by killing the cubs (Manly and Reid 5).
There is money to be made in using movies like “The Lion King”, “Madagascar”, “Wizard of Oz” and “The Chronicles of Narnia, the Lion: the Witch and the Wardrobe”, lions have always played sweet, loveable, gentle giants that have made millions for Disney and other companies. But lions have not been limited to endearing, adorable characters on the big and small screen, but are also mascots for sports teams. There are over fifty-seven and counting universities, colleges and high schools with a lion for a mascot but the most popular is the National Football League’s Detroit Lions, Roary the Lion. Roary has been the mascot for Detroit since 1934 (Shea 1). It is one thing to make money off of factious lion characters but an entirely different thing to kill these beautiful creatures. An estimated 600 lions are slaughtered every year on trophy hunts. Roughly 60 percent of all lions are slaughtered, for entertainment in Africa and are transported to the United States as trophies (Flocken 3). “The adult male lion is the most sought-after trophy by wealthy foreign hunters. When an adult male lion is killed, the destabilization of that Lion’s pride can lead to more Lion death as outside males compete to take over the pride by killing the cubs” (Flocken 3). This results in the extinction of generations of Lions within the pride. In spite of claims that hunting for sport and trophies brings millions of dollars in income to the native people in otherwise underprivileged populations, there is no evidence that this occurs. The revenue that comes into Africa from trophy hunting is nothing in comparison to the billions and billions made from tourist who come to observe wildlife in its natural habitat. If Lions continue to vanish from Africa, this essential source of revenue will end (Flocken 3). “On December 2015 the United States Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the African Lion would be formerly protected under the United States Endangered Species Act” (Griggs 1). The protection means that it will be much harder to bring lions into the United States, dead or alive. However, lions are not listed as in danger of extinction in all places. “The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red listed lions as a vulnerable population, one step above the endangered classification” (Griggs 2).
Lions are one of God’s most magnificent creatures. They are massive in height, length and weight and one of nature’s fearless predators. They truly have an amazing and fundamental understanding of the basis of teamwork, community and family. They practice this in the simple act of sharing the feeding of other cubs that are not their own. They are efficient hunters and protectors of their territory. It is funny how much we once were in awe of their beauty, humbled by their presence and feared their strength. Now in some ways we have reduced these bold and brave creatures to caricatures of themselves all in an effort to make money off of their likeness and for the bragging rights to hang their heads on our wall. These are amazing, beautiful animals that symbolize leadership and true strength in numbers, and may we learn from them and their existence on this earth before our very own and may we be Godly and bold as lions.