The Berber lion (Panthera leo leo) is one of two subspecies of lion (Panthera leo). It occurs in North and Central Africa, India and historically also in the Far East and Europe.
Traditionally, 11 subspecies of lion were distinguished, but an extensive taxonomic revision from 2017 proved the existence of only two. Six earlier subspecies in South and East Africa are now considered to be the only ones named Cape Lion (Panthera leo melanochaita) and five earlier subspecies in North and Central Africa and India are now referred to as Berber Lion (Panthera leo leo). Five previously distinguished Berber lion subspecies have been described on the basis of minor morphological features that occur in local populations and have no taxonomic value.
Previously distinguished subspecies
Berber lion in the narrower sense (Panthera leo leo sensu stricto)
According to some studies, this population survived in the wild until the mid-1960s. Its members are characterized by great stature and a massive mane. All Berber lions kept in captivity today are descendants of lions from the private kennel of the King of Morocco and are crossed with other lion populations.
In the Czech Republic, these lions are currently bred by the Olomouc Zoo, which has already given birth to twenty cubs, the last of which was born on May 11, 2018. A total of five lion cubs were also born in the Pilsen Zoo. Hodonín Zoo also has animals for which reproduction is not permitted. The breeding is also run by the Dvůr Králové ZOO, where there is a lion safari accessible by car, and the Liberec Zoo. In Slovakia it is bred in Zoo Bojnice, 2 pups were bred here. On May 10, 2019, three cubs were born in the Dvůr Králové ZOO.
Senegalese lion (Panthera leo senegalensis)
This population has a light brown color, males have an indistinct to no mane, which never touches the abdomen. The original range, which included West African areas south of the Sahara Desert and some other areas, has shrunk significantly.
Northern Congo Lion (Panthera leo azandica)
The members of this Congolese population are smaller than other lions and have not developed an abdominal mane. As a subspecies, these lions were described by Joel Asaph Allen in 1924, the holotype became the skull and skin marked as AMNH M-52084.
Panthera leo kamptzi
Lions belonging to this former subspecies inhabit Cameroon and adjacent areas.
Persian lion (Panthera leo persica)
The historical distribution of this population of the Berber lion stretched in a strip of territory from Turkey in the west to central India in the east. Currently, a limited number of 650 individuals live in India only in the state of Gujarat.
Compared to other populations, these lions reach a slightly smaller stature on average and the male mane is less extensive. They have a longitudinal lobe of loose skin on their bellies, which African lions lack. From the point of view of social organization, the main difference is that their packs are not so numerous and seldom include adult males. They usually join the lionesses only at the time of mating or sometimes also when consuming larger prey.
This article uses material from the English Wikipedia article Barbara.
MAZAK, Vratislav. Animals around the World 7 - Big cats and cheetahs. Praha: Státní zemědělské nakladatelství, 1980. 192 pp. Chapter Lev.
Pictures, sounds or videos about Berber lion on Wikimedia Commons
Berber lion in ZOO Olomouc