Leo (Panthera leo)
There is much debate about whether it is possible to call a lion king of animals, because a lion is not the largest representative of the cat family (the largest cat is a tiger). But all the same, when you meet with him in nature, you feel a kind of awe. A truly mighty beast: a powerful body, a broad head, muscular paws. A lion grows up to 2.5 m, and even a tail meter long. Males are larger than females 1.5 times. In addition, the pride of the males is a beautiful and dense mane. Color is from light yellow to dark brown. The lion is armed with claws, which can be almost 10 cm each.
Lions live in Africa, in the southern Sahara region, in North-West India. Previously, they were common in Asia, but now there are very few lions there. They dwell in savannas, upland semi-deserts, riverine forests and deserts. A lair for them is a cave, a cleft or a pit, located in a remote place. There the lions rest after hunting and spend the night.
There are two different subspecies - Asian and African. The first was preserved only in the eastern and southern parts of Equatorial Africa, where it is protected in reserves. In Africa, there are many national parks where animals live on freedom, and no one encroaches on their lives. Asian lions live in North-West India, in the Girsky Forest reserve, where there are about 200 of them. He is smaller than his African brother, but his weight still reaches 220 kilograms, and the length from the tip of the nose to the tail is two meters. The mane of the Asian lion is not so fluffy, but the rest of the coat is thick.
These predators live in groups (prides) consisting of 3 adult lions, 10 of 15 females and many small lions. The males carefully guard their territory from uninvited guests. Very often, there are fights with other lions who pretend to be someone else's pride.
Watching the lions, first there is a feeling that this is a very lazy animal. And indeed, the lion sleeps up to 20 hours a day. But if he goes on a hunt, you begin to understand with what dangerous predator we are dealing. Lions are more day-time hunters, at night they prefer to sleep. They often catch gazelles, antelopes, zebras. Can kill larger animals, such as buffalo or rhinoceros.
One day a Kenyan conservationist observed how only two lions hunted a rhinoceros, and in fact a rhinoceros is considered one of the most formidable animals in Africa. Few predators decide to contact him, but those lions killed a rhinoceros in just 20 minutes. At a time, the lion can eat up to 18 kg. This is not so much, considering that there is not a lion can be very long - a whole week. At the same time, he absolutely does not lose his strength. But if there is a possibility, then it gorges to a heap.
These terrible animals hunt, mainly, with the whole group, together. It is done this way: the females hide in the grass near the grazing antelopes or zebras, and at this time the males creep stealthily towards the herd. As the lions approach, the herd begins to recede. But lions are just right. It only seems that the lions will not succeed. Do not forget that in the bushes are hiding lionesses. Males perform only the role of beaters, taking their victims to the bushes, where they are already waiting. Lionesses rush to prey, trying to immediately bite a throat. Usually lions kill their prey quickly. This is not due to humane considerations. Simply, who kills quickly, he himself is less likely to be wounded in the fight. So, the main role in the production of food belongs to the lionesses. However, despite this, the right to eat only the lion. The best pieces go to him. All that remains after the other members of this large family eat up. It's just that the male has a great responsibility: the lion protects the pride. Giving him the best bits, the rest are grateful for that. After all, for the family there is nothing more important than the vast territory with rich hunting grounds, sufficient water and convenient shelter.
In the duties of females, besides the production of food, there is still a duty to educate the lions. It is very interesting that while lionesses hunt, others fulfill the duties of nannies - they keep track of the kids. The lionesses perceive all the lions equally, without figuring out where is whose.
Adult lions pose a serious threat to babies: if the lion is not in the mood, then he can easily bite it.
Lions are magnificent jumpers. One eyewitness claimed that the lion had crossed a canyon of eleven-meter width before his eyes. Three-meter jumps along the vertical, on the cliffs or through fences for them do not make it difficult.
What is the danger to man? Like many predators, the lion does not attack a person. Just have to be careful and not catch his eye. It's a predator! Do not think that in circuses and zoos lions become tame cats. In the Moscow region of Sergiev Posad, on the morning of Sunday, May 3, 2003, during the feeding from the cage in the circus tent, the lion and lioness managed to escape. Two trainers tried to drive them back into the cage, but the lions attacked one of them and killed it to death.
Lions-cannibals are very scary for humans. True, cases of cannibalism are much less than, for example, in tigers. Over the past hundred years, 580 people were killed by the tigers, and 210 by lions. The most notable case occurred during the construction of a railway connecting Mombasa and Nairobi: this construction was paralyzed for a long time due to a pair of lions. Every night they raided the camp. In total, 28 people were killed by them. Cannibals are, as a rule, old lions expelled from pride by stronger males. It is difficult for them to hunt for herbivores, but the person for them is the easiest prey. Since then, the lion also begins to terrify the surrounding inhabitants. In the fight against the cannibal lions, there is only one means - to destroy them. Having tasted once human beings, the lion understands that man is not so terrible and very vulnerable. So "or he us or we him." But one should not encourage hunting for everyone, only because of fear of the animal. Remember, the main thing: be careful, do not provoke a predator, then the lion will not attack you.