The lion (Panthera lion) is the largest cat species in Africa, yet the populations of the well loved lion, the 'king of the jungle', has dramatically declined by nearly half in just two decades.

Lion (Panthera leo) Unique Facts

~ Largest of the African cat species ~

~ The only true social wild cat living in prides ~

~ Males are distinct from females with a mane of hair ~

Lion (Panthera leo) - Panthera lineage
Male Lion (Panthera Leo)
Image by By Kevin Pluck (Flickr: The King.) [CC BY 2.0 ] via Wikimedia Commons
Image Source


Lion (Panthera leo) Classification

The taxonomy or scientific classification of the lion species (Panthera leo) is as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia   (animals)

Phylum: Chordata   (vertebrates)

Class: Mammalia   (mammals)

Order: Carnivora   (carnivores)

Suborder: Feliformia   (cat-like)

Family: Felidae   (cats)

Genus: Panthera   (big cats)

Species: Panthera leo   (lion)


Lion (Panthera leo) Subspecies (lower classification)

Currently lions are classified into only two subspecies - the Asian and the African subpopulations.

Historically lions occurred both in sub-Saharan Africa as well as in the north from Northern Africa into Southwest Asia and into Europe. However today only a remnant population remains in India and the remaining populations occur in sub-Saharan Africa.

Unfortunately many African countries are reporting local extinctions and it is estimated there has been an overall decline of African lions of 43% in just 21 years (1993-2014).

Regionally Extinct (RE)

  • Lion Panthera leo (Mediterranean - North Africa)

Endangered (EN)

  • Asiatic Lion Panthera leo persica

Vulnerable (VU)

  • African Lion Panthera leo leo

Reference: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-3. <>. Panthera leo. 7 Feb 2017.


Lion (Panthera leo) Conservation

The following global organizations are all fighting to conserve our majestic lions in the face of rapidly diminishing habitat and persecution:


Lion (Panthera leo) Facts and Information

The following links will take you to websites with well researched and authoritative information on lions:

Recommended Books about all Wild Cats

Wild Cats of the World - Luke Hunter Luke Hunter 2015
(general and academic interest)
Wild Cats of the World - eBook

The Wild Cat Book - Sunquist Fiona and Mel Sunquist 2014
(general interest)
The Wild Cat Book - eBook

Small Wild Cats - Sanderson and Watson J. Sanderson & P. Watson 2011
(general interest)
Small Wild Cats - eBook

Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids D.Macdonald & A.Loveridge 2010
(academic interest)
eTextbook version

Wild Cats of the World - Sunquist Mel and Fiona Sunquist 2002
(general and academic interest)