Lions are both one of the most beautiful animals in the animal kingdom, as well as one of the fiercest, being the second largest feline behind the Tiger. With thanks to popular culture lions have become well loved animals and have become one of my favourite animals thanks to the well-known Disney film The Lion King. With speed, agility and general ferociousness to its name it is no wonder that lions are the symbols of courage, power and strength and are used in crests and even on flags of countries all over the world. Some ancient heroes like Hercules even paraded and adorned themselves in the skins of lions as a sign of their courage and worth. Images of lions are also used in language, with similes being used to compare a defensive parent to a lioness defending her cubs. Found now only in the sub-Saharan region of Africa, as opposed to once being found in Greece and other parts of the Middle East, lions live in prides made up of about 10 – 15 animals with a large group of females and one territorial male who fathers all of the cubs. Typically the laziest out of all the big cats found in the wild lions can always be found to be laying around sleeping and resting. When they are not resting lions are out hunting, which the females can do up to about 90% of the work for, and eating the prey caught. Lions will mostly eat any mammal they can find whilst out hunting, such as zebras, giraffes, wildebeest and even crocodiles! They will even attack and eat small animals like mice and lizards, sometimes even scavenging off kills made by other animals like hyenas. Lions are classed as an endangered species due to the rapid decline in their numbers since the beginning of the 1950’s. Because of this decline in number, thanks in part to some long standing rituals in some areas of Africa in which a man’s bravery is proved if he kill a lion, the number of lions in Africa today stands at fewer than 21,000. They are also killed for their furs and for trespassing near or even venturing into local villages due to shortages of prey.
Figures on lion population found from Defenders of Wildlife; http://www.defenders.org/african-lion/basic-facts