African Lions

Mostly found on savannah but can also be found in varied habitats including woodland and desert, Lions are the only member of the cat family to be described as truly 'social'. Typically lions live in groups of 12-16 individuals, called prides. These include 4-6 related lionesses and their cubs, as well as 1-2 males who are usually with the pride for a breeding season (24-36 months).

The threats to lions are increasing. They are killed in retaliation for ‘stock-raiding’ (occasionally killing livestock), increasing human-lion conflict, due to a rising human population taking more and more land previously used by lions, they are caught in snares and traps set to catch animals for the bushmeat trade, trophy hunting – people hunting lions for ‘sport’ - disease and Traditional Chinese Medicine – with tiger parts becoming increasingly hard to obtain due to their low numbers, the illegal trade is now turning to lions

Stats

Weight

up to 272kg

Eating

up to 7kg of meat a day

Population

c.20,000 - 30,000

Location

Sub-Saharan Africa

Where in the world?

African lions are found across sub-Saharan Africa - the area below the Saharan desert. The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation supports lion projects in Uganda investigating and protecting lion populations in two of Uganda’s key wildlife areas.

Africa’s lions are under threat and, with little known about the lions of Uganda, DSWF funding will help conservationists better understand the issues and threats faced by the populations in the country. The teams will work to establish whether the South Murchinson Falls Conservation Area holds the largest population of lions in the country and how many lions survive in Kidepo Valley National Park in the northeast.

This project aims to determine the size and range of Uganda’s lions and evaluate the threats to them. A number of lions are being collared and assessed by vets to better understand any health issues effecting the population.

Uganda

The capital of Uganda is Kampala.

DSWF funds teams working to establish whether the South Murchinson Falls Conservation Area holds the largest population of lions in the country and how many lions survive in Kidepo Valley National Park in the northeast.

Learn more about this project

FACTS

1

Lions are carnivores, with female lions needing around 5kg of meat a day and male lions 7kg. Lionesses carry out between 85-90% of the hunting, while males protect their territory and the pride. An apex predator, lions play a very valuable role in the ecosystem, balancing the numbers of herbivores in their habitat, for example zebra and wildebeest.

2

Uniquely in the cat family, adult male lions have a mane of hair around their necks. It shows female lions how fit and healthy they are and protects the lion's neck during fights. In the hottest climates lions' manes tend to be less thick and long than those living in cooler areas. Older lions have darker manes.

3

Lion cubs are born with brown rosettes on their fur, these fade as they reach maturity but may occasionally still be faintly seen on adult lions. Cubs have pink noses which gradually become darker as they grow, by around 6 years old most of the nose is black.

4

Their tawny coloured fur is perfect camouflage for their Savannah habitat, blending in beautifully with the grassland. This enables them to get close to prey before launching an attack, reducing the need for a long, drawn out chase.

Discover more about African Lions

You can help save African lions by supporting the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation's work either by fundraising as a school or an individual or entering our annual art and poetry competition. For more information you can download our animal fact sheets and posters too!


Photography courtesy of Andrew White, Erica Wark