The African lion (Panthera leo) is the largest cat species in Africa, yet the populations of the well loved lion, the 'king of the jungle', have dramatically declined by nearly half in just two decades.
Lion (Panthera leo) - Panthera lineage
Male Lion (Panthera leo) by Kevin Pluck (Flickr: The King.) [CC BY 2.0 ] via Wikimedia Commons

Unique Facts about Lions

~ Largest African cat ~

~ Only social feline living in prides ~

~ Males differ to females with manes ~

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Lion Art - Shades of Amber by Barbara Keith
Lion Print - Shades of Amber by Barbara Keith
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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 lion (Panthera leo persica) and African lion (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
Lion Art - Golden Days by Barbara Keith
Lion Print - Golden Days by Barbara Keith
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African lioness and cubs by Vincent Munier

African Lion Conservation

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

Please support them in any way you can, every contribution helps - large or small !

African Lion & Asiatic Lion

Facts and Information

The following websites have well researched and authoritative information on African lions and Asiatic lions:

African Lion and Lioness by Frank Schneidermeyer

Geckos Adventures - Pride of Lions South Africa


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