August 11, 2022

The lion (Panthera leo) is a large mammal from the cat family (Felidae) and one of the "big cats" of the panther genus (Panthera). A male lion, easily recognizable by its mane, weighs between 180-255 kilograms on average. Females are smaller and weigh 110-155 kilograms. In the wild, lions live for about 10-18 years, while in captivity they live for over 20 years. They used to live all over Africa, Asia and Europe, while today they can only be found in the wild in Africa and India. They live in savannas and hunt in packs.

Distribution and population

In relatively recent times, the lion's habitat included the southern parts of Eurasia, from Portugal to India, and most of Africa except for the central, tropical parts and the Sahara desert. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, lions became extinct in North Africa and the Middle East. Today, most lions live in eastern and southern Africa and their numbers are drastically declining. In 1900, about 100,000 lions lived in Africa, and today it is estimated that between 16,000 and 30,000 live in the wild. The Asiatic lion, also known as the Indian lion (subspecies Panthera leo persica), which in the past lived in the territory from Turkey to India and from the Caucasus to Yemen, was exterminated from the territory of Palestine in the Middle Ages. With the advent of firearms in the 18th century, it disappeared in most other parts of Asia. By the end of the 19th century, lions disappeared from Turkey, while the last lion in Iran was shot in 1942. In 1944, the skeleton of a lioness was found on the banks of the Karun River in Iran. This subspecies lives today only in the Gir forest in northern India. About 300 lions live in an area of ​​1,412 km² in the state of Gujarat, which covers most of the forest. Their number is stable. Lions inhabited both the Americas and northern Eurasia until the Pleistocene. The most famous prehistoric subspecies are the cave lion (Panthera leo spelaea) and the American lion (Panthera leo atrox).


The name lion is similar in many languages, and comes from the Latin word leo, and before that from the ancient Greek word leōn/λεων. The Hebrew word lion (לָבִיא) can also be related, as well as the ancient Egyptian word rw. The scientific name, Panthera leo, is thought to come from the Greek words pan- ("each") and ther ("beast"). Panthera is probably of East Asian origin and means "yellowish animal" or "white-yellow".

Physical appearance

The male lion is the second largest cat in the world, the only one with a mane and a tufted tail. The muscular body of the lioness follows the lini