The Whisker Chronicles

Whiskers are also known as vibrissa, from the latin vibrare "to vibrate". Vibrissa are the specialized hairs on mammals and the bristlelike feathers near the mouths of many birds. Their resonant design is symbolic of the energies, good and bad, that are reverberating throughout the natural world. Every living thing is connected and, by birthright, deserves to exist.

African Lion

Cecil the lion at Hwange National Park (4516560206) by Daughter#3 - Cecil. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons -

Cecil the lion at Hwange National Park (4516560206) by Daughter#3 – Cecil. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons –

Scientific Name: Panthera leo 

Panthera is latin for leopard. Leo is latin for lion.

Taxonomy currently used by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources SSC Cat Specialist Group to refer to lion subspecies includes Panthera leo persica for Asian subpopulations and Panthera leo leo for African subpopulations.

Where African Lions Live:

IUCN Range Map Lion

Lions are found in most countries of sub-Saharan Africa. According to the IUCN, outside sub-Saharan Africa, the Lion formerly ranged from northern Africa through southwest Asia (where it disappeared from most countries within the last 150 years), west into Europe, where it apparently became extinct almost 2,000 years ago, and east into India (Nowell and Jackson 1996, Sunquist and Sunquist 2002). Today, the only remainder of this once widespread northern population is a single isolated subpopulation in the 1,400 km² Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. Lions are extinct in North Africa.

Lion habitat includes savannas, grasslands, dense bush, and woodlands.

What African Lions Eat: 

Meat, usually very hard earned in stalking and preying collaboratively by all the females, but males will hunt too. They prefer medium and large sized prey such as buffalo, wildebeest, zebra or gemsbok but will eat prey as small as a mouse.

How Long African Lions Live: 10 to 14 years in the wild; up to 20 years in captivity.

Conservation of African Lions: 

African lions are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, in part because of an estimated 42% decline in total wild African lion populations, including all subspecies and subpopulations.

The greatest threats to African lion populations include indiscriminate killing such as when lions are killed to protect domestic livestock which is referred to as human-lion conflict. Trophy hunting is often seen as a management tool to aid in lion conservation as the funds are supposed to go back into protecting lions, but often these programs are mismanaged and results in unsustainable offtakes (excessive hunting) and therefore, this is a technique that needs to be reevaluated and restructured, if not abandoned.

In some areas, loss of prey due to the bushmeat trade has left dwindling food resources for some lion populations.

While many zoos throughout the world have captive breeding programs that are successful in keeping the species in existence, the best chance African lions have is for wild populations to be conserved by people who live in the same region. 

How to Help African Lions:

Visit the World Lion Day website to explore several examples of regional conservation efforts and for many suggestions as to how you can support lions and spread the word of their plight.

And to learn more about African lion behavior, check out this terrific documentary by National Geographic.

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This entry was posted on August 16, 2015 by in Mammals.
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