While other big cats rarely travel in groups, lions tend to congregate in prides. They do inhabit other areas such as woodlands, but you won’t find them near a jungle. Top males are brutal as leaders. Once they take charge, they kill off all the male cubs that are not theirs, then mate with the females to add their own progeny to the family. They’re the only cats with thick furry manes, which protect their necks during fights with other males.
We can still call them the “King of Beasts,” but they are also dwindling in rapid numbers. In 1955, researchers believed there were about 400,000 in existence. Today, there may be as few as 20,000. A smaller, almost insignificant population exists in India. Habitat encroachment is the standard reason for diminishing numbers, but they are also considered trophies.
The road to conservation is tedious. First, locals must create lion-proof “bomas” for their livestock. Second, they must realize that this great feline is a tourist attraction rather than a nuisance. On the IUCN Red List, lions have reached “vulnerable” status while Cites lists them as “protected.”
Photo by William H. Majoros, courtesy Wikipedia CC license