Asian lion

The Asian lion is the most majestic and graceful species of the feline predator family. This species of animal has existed on earth for more than a million years and in the old days occupied a vast territory. The Asian lion has other names – Indian or Persian. In ancient times, it was this type of predator that was allowed to participate in gladiator fights in ancient Greece and ancient Rome.

Origin of the species and description

Photo: Asiatic Lion

Photo: Asiatic Lion

The Asian lion is a representative of the order of predators, the cat family, the panther genus and the lion species. Zoologists say that the Asiatic lion exists on Earth more than a million years ago. Several centuries ago, they lived almost everywhere – on the territory of southern and western Eurasia, Greece, India. Animal populations in different areas were numerous – they numbered several thousand species.

Then, the vast territory of the Indian desert was chosen as the main area of ​​u200bu200bits residence. Mentions of this majestic and powerful animal were found in the Bible and the writings of Aristotle. At the beginning of the 20th century, the situation changed radically. The number of individuals of this species has sharply decreased. On the territory of the Indian desert there are no more than a dozen individuals left. The Asian lion is considered the property of India, and its symbol due to its strength, greatness and fearlessness.

Appearance and Features

Photo: Asian Lion Red Book

Photo: Asian Lion Red Book

Among all representatives of feline predators, the Indian lion is inferior in size and grandeur only to tigers. An adult reaches 1.30 meters in height at the withers. The body weight of a predator is from 115 to 240 kilograms. The body length is 2.5 meters. The largest of all existing individuals of a wild predator lived in a zoo, and weighed 370 kilograms. Sexual dimorphism is pronounced – females are smaller and lighter than males.

The animal has a large, elongated head. The mass of the female is 90-115 kilograms. On the head are small, rounded ears. A characteristic feature of these representatives of the cat family is powerful, large and very strong jaws. They have three dozen teeth. Each of them has huge fangs, the size of which reaches 7-9 centimeters. Such teeth allow even large ungulates to bite through the spine.

Video: Asian lion

Asian lions have a slender, toned, long body. The limbs are short and very powerful. The animal is distinguished by the incredibly powerful impact force of one paw. It can reach in some cases up to two hundred kilograms. Predators are distinguished by a long, thin tail, the tip of which is covered with dark hair in the form of a brush. The length of the tail is 50-100 centimeters.

Coat color can be varied: dark, almost white, cream, grayish. Ideally, it merges with the color of the desert sands. Predator cubs are born with a spotted color. A distinctive feature of males is the presence of a thick, long mane. The length of the mane reaches half a meter. Its color can be varied. Thick hair begins to form from the age of six months. The growth and increase in the volume of the mane continues in males throughout their lives. Dense vegetation frames the head, neck, chest and abdomen. The color of the mane can be varied: from light brown to black. The mane is used by males to attract females and scare away other males.

Where does the Asiatic lion live?

Photo: Asian Lion in India

Photo: Asian Lion in India

Due to the fact that at the beginning of the last century there were only 13 of these amazing, graceful predators left, their habitat is limited to only one place. This is the Gir National Reserve in the Indian state of Gujarat. There, representatives of this species occupy a relatively small area – about one and a half thousand square kilometers. Local zoologists make a lot of efforts to preserve and increase the number of individuals of this species. In 2005 there were 359 of them, and in 2011 there were already 411.

Indian lions prefer areas covered with dense, thorny bushes for permanent living in natural conditions. Most often it is interspersed with the savannah. Individuals can live in the jungle in marshy areas. The territory of the national park, which is currently inhabited by these representatives of the cat family, consists of several hills of volcanic nature. The height of the hills is 80-450 meters. They are surrounded by flat terrain, an agricultural area. This area has a dry climate. The temperature in summer reaches 45 degrees. Precipitation is low, no more than 850 mm.

Several seasons are distinguished here:

  • Summer — starts in mid-March and continues until mid-June.
  • Monsoon — starts in mid-June and continues until mid-October.
  • Winter — starts in mid-October and lasts until the end of February, beginning of March.

Another feature of the choice of habitat is the presence of a source of water nearby. The national park has all the necessary conditions for a comfortable stay of amazing, rare predators. The territory of the park is thorny thickets, giving way to savannahs and forests located on the banks of rivers and large streams. There is also a large number of pastures located in open, flat areas. This makes it easy for lions to forage for their own food.

What does the Asiatic lion eat?

Photo: Asiatic lion animal

Photo: Asiatic lion animal

Persian lions – natural predators. The main and only source of nutrition is meat. They are endowed with the ability of skilled, very skilled hunters. Persecution is unusual for them, they choose the tactics of a surprise, lightning-fast attack, leaving no chance for the victim to escape.

Asiatic lion food source:

  • representatives of large ungulate mammals;
  • boars;
  • roe deer;
  • cattle;
  • wildbeests;
  • gazelles;
  • zebras;
  • warthogs.

In the case of a prolonged lack of food, flocks of especially dangerous, or very large animals are observed to fall. It could be giraffes, baby elephants, hippos, or even combed crocodiles basking in the sun. However, such hunting is not safe for the life of adults. On average, one adult lion needs to eat at least 30-50 kilograms of meat per day, depending on the weight of the animal. After each meal, be sure to go to the watering hole.

Animals tend to often choose areas near open water bodies as a place to hunt. When existing in an arid climate and terrible heat, they are able to fill the need for fluid from plants, or the bodies of their prey. Thanks to this ability, they do not die from heat. In the absence of ungulates and other habitual food sources, Asian lions can attack other smaller predators – hyenas, cheetahs. Sometimes they can even attack a person. According to statistics, at least 50-70 people die every year from hungry Indian tigers in Africa. People are attacked mainly by hungry lonely males.

Predators can hunt at any time of the day. When hunting at night, they choose an object even after dark and start hunting at dusk. During daytime hunting, they look out for prey, stealing up through dense, thorny thickets of bushes. Mostly females take part in hunting. They choose a place for an ambush, surrounding the intended victim. Males are very conspicuous due to their thick mane. They go out into the open and force the victim to retreat towards the ambush.

Lions are capable of reaching speeds of up to 50 km/h during the pursuit. But they cannot move at such a speed for a long time. Therefore, they choose weak, sick individuals, or cubs as an object for hunting. First they eat the insides, then everything else. Uneaten prey is protected from other predators until the next meal. A well-fed predator may not go hunting for several days. At this time, he mostly sleeps and gains strength.

Peculiarities of character and lifestyle

Photo: Asiatic Lion

Photo: Asiatic Lion

It is unusual for predators to lead a solitary lifestyle. They come together in packs called prides. Today, these animals form small prides, as the number of large ungulates has significantly decreased. Smaller prey is not able to feed a large flock. For hunting small animals, the participation of only two to three adult females is sufficient. Males in the flock protect the territory of the pride and participate in procreation.

The number of packs of Asiatic lions is 7-14 individuals. In the composition of such a group, individuals exist for several years. Each pride is headed by the most experienced and wisest female. There are no more than two or three males in a group. Most often they have fraternal family ties with each other. One of them always has the advantage. It manifests itself in the choice of a companion for marriage, as well as in battle. Female representatives also have family ties with each other. They coexist very peacefully and amicably. Each pride tends to occupy a certain territory. Often, in the struggle for a profitable area of ​​​​existence, you have to fight.

Fights and fights are quite brutal and bloody. The size of the territory depends on the quantitative composition of the pride, the availability of food sources. It can reach 400 sq. kilometers. Upon reaching the age of two or three, the males leave the pride. They either lead a solitary lifestyle, or adjoin other males of the same age. They are waiting for the time when it will be possible to cope with the weak leader of nearby prides. Having picked up the right moment, they attack the male.

If he is defeated, a new young and strong male takes his place. At the same time, he immediately kills the young offspring of the former leader. At the same time, lionesses cannot protect their offspring. After some time, they calm down and give birth to new offspring with a new leader. The head male of the pack changes every 3-4 years.

Social Structure and Reproduction

Photo: Asiatic Lion Cubs

Photo: Asiatic Lion Cubs

The period of marriage is seasonal. Most often it comes with the advent of the rainy season. To attract females, males use their thick, long mane. After mating, a gestation period begins, which lasts 104-110 days. Before giving birth, the lioness looks for a secluded place, which is removed from the habitats of the pride and hidden in dense vegetation. From two to five babies are born into the world. In captivity, the number of offspring can double. Babies are born with a spotted color, blind.

The mass of one cub depends on their total number and ranges from 500 to 2000 grams. At first, the female is very careful and protects and protects her babies as much as possible. She constantly changes her shelter, dragging the kittens with her. After two weeks, babies begin to see. A week later, they begin to actively run after their mother. Females tend to feed milk not only to their cubs, but also to other pride cubs. One and a half, two months after giving birth, the female returns to the pride with her offspring. Only females take care, feed, teach offspring to hunt. They tend to help females who are immature and do not have their own offspring.

A month and a half after birth, kittens eat meat. At the age of three months, they participate in the hunt as spectators. At six months, young individuals are able to get food on a par with adult animals of the pack. Kittens leave their mother at the age of one and a half – two years, when she has a new offspring. Females reach sexual maturity at the age of 4 – 5 years, males – 3 – 4 years. The average duration of one lion in natural conditions is 14 — 16 years old, live in captivity for more than 20 years. According to statistics, under natural conditions, more than 70% of animals die before reaching the age of 2.

Natural enemies of Asiatic lions

Photo: Asiatic Lion India

Photo: Asiatic Lion India

In the wild Asiatic lions have no enemies among predators, since they surpass almost all, except tigers, in strength, power and size.

The main enemies of the Asiatic lion are:

  • helminths;
  • ticks;
  • fleas.

They cause a weakening of the immune system, and the whole organism as a whole. In this case, individuals are susceptible to death from other concomitant diseases. One of the main enemies of the representatives of the cat family is a man and his activities. In ancient times, it was prestigious to receive a trophy in the form of this majestic predator. Also, hunting for ungulates and other herbivores and human development of the habitat of predators mercilessly reduces their numbers. Another reason for the mass death of Persian lions is considered to be vaccination with low-quality Indian drugs.

Many animals die in fierce fights between prides. As a result of such battles, the flock, which has an advantage in numbers, strength and power, almost completely destroys the other one.

Population and species status

Photo: Animal Asian lion

Photo: Asiatic lion animal

Today, this species of predator is listed in the international Red Book. It has been given the status of critically endangered.

The main reasons for the extinction of the species:

  • Diseases;
  • Lack of food sources;
  • Destruction of young individuals by males who captured the flock;
  • Mass death in fierce fights between prides for territory;
  • Attack on small kittens by other predators – hyenas, cheetahs, leopards;
  • Safari, illegal activities of poachers;
  • Death from poor-quality medicines that were used to vaccinate animals in India;
  • Changing climatic conditions and the inability of animals to adapt to climate change.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the number of animals was critically low – there were only 13 of them. Today, thanks to the efforts of zoologists and scientists, they the number increased to 413 individuals.

Asiatic Lion Conservation

Photo: Asian lion from the Red Book

Photo: Asian lion from the Red Book

In order to save this species of animals, a special program for the protection of the Asiatic lion was developed and implemented. It spread throughout North America and Africa. Scientists say that it is forbidden to cross these lions with other species, as it is necessary to maintain genetic purity.

Employees and authorities of the territory where the Girsky Reserve is located do not give Persian lions to any other reserves, as they are unique , and very rare animals. In India, great importance is attached to the preservation and increase in the number of these animals, since it is the Asian lion that is considered the symbol of this country. In this regard, the destruction of predators is strictly prohibited here.

Today, scientists note that their activities really bear fruit. There is an increase in the number of representatives of the cat family. From 2005 to 2011 their number increased by 52 individuals. The Asian lion will be deregistered only at the moment when they begin to breed in natural conditions, not only in the territory of the modern Indian national park, but also in other areas.

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