African Lions: Ten Fascinating Facts and Our Favorite Photos

Two for the Road: African Lions - Facts and Photos

So if you happened to take a look at this week’s very cool episode from our epic safari in Serengeti National Park, you got to be there for our first ever encounter with lions in the wild. It was a thrilling experience, no doubt. And we can tell you these beautiful, majestic cats are even more beautiful and majestic when you see them out in their natural habitat!

Lions have also been in the news a lot lately of course, after the killing of Cecil the lion by an American trophy hunter in Zimbabwe. So lots of folks are talking about lions these days! You’ve probably learned at least a little bit about lions because of all the attention and the extensive media reports, and we learned a few surprising things about the big cats during our safari in Tanzania. So between the two we’ve created a list of ten very cool things you may – or may not – have known about the “kings of the jungle.” Check ’em out:

Two for the Road: African Lions - Facts and Photos

First off, lions are actually NOT the kings of the jungle! In fact, believe it or not they don’t even live in jungles at all. Instead you’ll find them primarily living in and on the open grasslands and plains of Africa.

Lions used to roam freely throughout Africa, Asia and even Europe but are now found solely in eastern and southern Africa, save for one remaining group of Asiatic lions in Sasan-Gir National Park in India.

Two for the Road: African Lions - Facts and Photos

So yes, that means the lion population is definitely in steep decline. National Geographic estimates the population was in the millions only 2,000 years ago. In the 1940s that number was roughly half a million. And today it’s estimated there are only as few as 25,000 lions still living in the wild.

As a result, lions ARE listed as a threatened/vulnerable species. Yet lion hunting is still legal in many parts of Africa. And lion meat is even available to eat at some places here in the United States.

Two for the Road: African Lions - Facts and Photos

Here’s one that surprised us when we first encountered a pride of lions in the Serengeti: lions can actually climb trees! Makes sense, we suppose, since they are big cats after all. But like lots of folks we’d just always assumed that lions stuck to eating, sleeping and living on terra firma.

A lion’s roar can be heard from up to five miles away! And again, we can attest to this personally. We stayed at the Serena Lodge inside Serengeti National Park and every night we’d hear the lions’ mighty roar booming from virtually every direction across the plain. Truly a sound you’ll never forget!

Two for the Road: African Lions - Facts and Photos

Lions are extremely social animals, and are known for being the most social of all the big cats. A pride of lions typically consists of roughly 15 lions. You mess with one, you get them all.

Two for the Road: African Lions - Facts and Photos

Here’s another quirky fact: it’s actually the female lions that go out and do most of the hunting, while male lions just sit around looking regal all day. But the males still generally get to eat first. It’s good to be the King.

Two for the Road: African Lions - Facts and Photos

The mane of a male lion not only allows him to appear larger and more intimidating, but it also is characteristic of sexual health and maturity. And yes, the females do tend to go for the males with bigger, darker manes. Go figure.

Two for the Road: African Lions - Facts and Photos

And finally, just like your little kitty at home, whether male or female a lion will spend up to 20 hours a day napping!

Fascinating, huh? Truly remarkable animals. And we feel so blessed to have been able to see them in the wild. Let’s all hope that ongoing conservation efforts and increasing awareness will ensure these majestic cats will be roaming the savannas of Africa for many, many years to come.

Cheers!

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2 Comments

  1. Fantastic info!! We din’t kniw that lions use to roam Europe. We can’t wait to head to Africa. But for now we live through your amazing videos. Carolann gets super excited when Youtube tells us that you guys posted a new video 🙂

    • Awesome! Thanks guys! You will absolutely LOVE Africa! We’re the same way with your Thailand posts since we’re going there in December. Loving all the information!! Cheers guys 🙂

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