By DJANI Wildlife Projects on Jan 16, 2010 | In ENGLISH
... Lions, tigers, leopards and jaguars (genus Panthera) are commonly known as “big cats”, mainly because of their larger size and ability to roar due to its unossified and elastic suspensorium, allowing the voice box to move freely. A lion pride may be up to 40 members, including 2 to 18 closely related females plus their cubs and up to 7 territorial males. As lions are great wanderers, pride members are usually seen singly or in small sub-groups of 3 to 5 lions. Availability of food is the single factor that influences not only pride size, but also fertility and litter size.
Although often moving or hunting in daylight, these big cats rest or sleep for up to 16 hours per day and are most active at night (± 88% of all successful hunting attempts are at night). They are skilled and very clever hunters with a remarkably ability to anticipate prey behaviour. Lionesses rather than lions do the hunting, as females are lighter, smaller, faster and without a conspicuous mane. These opportunistic predators will eat almost any prey; readily take carrion even if already rotten and adults may gorge up to 25% of its own weight (± 50 kg) in one meal. Apart from the sounds made by hyaenas, lions often watch vultures to lead them to possible food and in some regions, up to 80% of all carcasses fed on by lions have actually been killed by hyaenas. When males do hunt, buffalo are usually the chosen prey species as they can corner and overpower them without having to chase them. Horny papillae on its tongue are used to scrape flesh from bones and through the skin of prey; lapping up water, and removing parasites during grooming. Lions are good swimmers and are able to climb trees.
All lions have spots. Cubs are born spotted and although faded, these spots persist in adults. The arrangement of the black whisker spots on a lion’s face is as unique as human fingerprints. They are the only big cat species with a tuft of hair on the tip of its tail and it conceals a horny nail or spur. Lions have the longest gestation period of all cats and are the only cat species within which infanticide (mostly by new dominant males) is common and widespread. White lions, endemic to southern Africa, are genetic mutations and not albinos as their eyes possess pigmentation and are not pink-red. The normal black whisker spots, tail tuft, nose and lips are lighter in these rare lions and their footpads are pinkish and not dark grey.
... (read further in the book ...)
|« RED LIST - Species of the Day||Persecuted because they are poorly understood ... »|