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 African cat ~

~ Only social feline living in prides ~

~ Males differ to females with manes ~

Lion (Panthera leo) - Panthera lineage
Male Lion (Panthera leo)
Image by By Kevin Pluck (Flickr: The King.) [CC BY 2.0 ] via Wikimedia Commons
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Two African Lions by J&A Scott


Best of East Africa - 21 days

Small Groups and Responsible Travel
Intrepid: Best of East Africa
Find the best of East Africa on this Intrepid adventure as you traverse across Kenya into Tanzania. Discover the wildlife, history, people, culture and beauty of this incredible spot.

Lion (Panthera leo) Classification

Lions belong to the big cat genus Panthera and the full taxonomy, scientific classification or higher 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)

Subfamily: Pantherinae (big cats)

Genus: Panthera (big cats)

Species: Panthera leo (lion)

Lion (Panthera leo) Lower Classifications (subspecies)

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

Some African countries, especially in West Africa, 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).

Up until recently lions were classified into the Asian (Panthera leo persica) and African (Panthera leo leo) sub-populations on which the latest IUCN Red List status is based:

Regionally Extinct (RE)

  • Lion Panthera leo (Mediterranean - North Africa)

Critically Endangered (CR)

  • Lion Panthera leo (West Africa)

Endangered (EN)

  • Asiatic Lion Panthera leo persica (Asia)

Vulnerable (VU)

  • Lion Panthera leo (global)
  • African Lion Panthera leo leo (Africa)

However the current taxonomic revision of Felidae proposes that the Asian sub-population is closely related to the lions in the northern range of Africa and the southern and eastern African lions are a distinct subspecies:

  1. Panthera leo leo - Central and West Africa and India
  2. Panthera leo melanochaita - Southern and Eastern Africa


African Lion and Lioness by Frank Schneidermeyer

East Africa Family Safari - 17 days

Small Groups and Responsible Travel
East Africa Family Safari
Embark on a safari in Kenya and Tanzania and spot the Big Five: lions, elephants, rhinos, buffalo and leopards. This is an exciting trip the whole family will cherish for years to come!

African lioness and cubs by Vincent Munier

Kruger to Vic Falls - 8 days

Small Groups and Responsible Travel
Kruger to Vic Falls
Encounter lions, leopards, zebras and giraffes while travelling on safari through the landscapes blessed with breathtaking natural beauty. This African adventure will be sure to thrill.

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: