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Transvaal lion

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Transvaal lion
Panthera leo krugeri.jpg
Scientific Classification
Trinomial Name
Panthera leo krugeri

The Transvaal lion is a subspecies of lion that is also known as the Southeastern lion, because they mainly lives in southern parts of Africa. Their social structure is the largest compared to other lions. Males usually protect their tribe and females are hunters. They eat animals like zebras that are around African grasslands.

Body Design

A full scale photo of a Transvaal lion

The Transvaal lion (South African lion) is a huge cat. Males weigh between 330 to 550 pounds and females weigh between 260 pounds to 400 pounds. For both male and female lions, the length of their body is 8 to 10 feet long not including their tails. The Transvaal lion is well known for its mane, which only the male possess. When they're young they have yellow manes, but as they grow up, the color of the mane darkens and it eventually becomes dark brown. They're well developed for their hunting abilities. For example, their muscular rear legs are very useful for pouncing. Their front legs, which are also very muscular, are well developed grabbing and knocking down their prey. They also have very strong jaws so they could eat very large prey. [2]

The mane that the males have surround the head and goes all the way to its chest. As they have adapted to their environment, they have developed very long and sharp claws to hunting their prey easier. They also have rough tongue to help them peel the skin off from the organism's bone. Loose belly skin helps them from getting seriously injured if they get attacked by their prey. [3]

Life Cycle

Transvaal lion cuddling

Lions can live up to 13-25 years after they mature. Male lions can sexually reproduce 2-3 years after they're born. Females, on the other hand, can reproduce after two years. After they reach this age, they mate throughout the year. After 100-119 days from gestation, cubs are born. Females can give birth to as many as five cubs. After the cub is born they follow their mother for 2 years and they are either forced to leave the tribe or they might stay around their tribe. 80% of the cubs die before the age of 2. They either die from starvation or fighting other males to prove that they are stronger. Cubs can eat meat after 3 months from their birth, and they need nursing until they are 7 to 8 months old. When a new male takes over their pride, the male might kill the cub so it can reproduce with more females and produce more of its offspring. [4]

Males from the same tribe don't fight for their mating right, the one who gets to reproduce with another female gets to keep their offspring. One female may take care of other females cubs too. After three months from their birth, cubs follow their mother to learn how to hunt. Because the gestation period is so short, the cubs only weigh 5 pounds when the are born. They can't open their eyes until they are 3 weeks old. Mothers do not care much for their individual offspring but they care for all cubs that are born. [2]

Ecology

Transvaal lion eating a piece of meat

The Transvaal lion used to live all around Africa but now they are found in the south Sahara desert and also in the southern part of Africa. The population has decreased by almost 50% 1950 because a lot people hunted them and sold the male's mane. [5] The Transvaal lions usually hunt big animals like zebras or impalas but they might hunt smaller animals if it's necessary. The hunting is usually done by the females. The males may even sleep over 20 hours a day. When males are young, they band together to gain control of the pride. The stronger ones fight others and they may kill the weaker ones. [3]

Transvaal lions live in environments like rich grasslands, woodlands, semi deserts, and shrublands. They live near South Africa, not including Congo rainforest. Areas like Transvaal (Where most of the Transvaal lions are found) are very big so they adopted to their environment. One example for the Transvaal lion is adaptation is their eye sight. They have the biggest eyes out of any meat-eating animals. They can spot their prey from miles away which makes them easier to hunt in this huge region. They can also jump very high. This is because the wild animals there are very fast and sneaky. For example, the zebra is one of the fastest organism that is living in that area. For lions, it is very hard to catch them from such a distance since other organisms are very cautious from their preys because of that, lions sneak out of high grasslands and jump on them a lot which enabled them to jump longer and higher. They can jump over 35 feet in one leap. [4]

Social Structure

Fully grown Transvaal lion and a cub eating their prey

Transvaal lions have a very unique form of social structure. They form a pride which consists consisted of 4-12 related adult females, 2-3 males, and cubs. To determine who will be leading the tribe, males have to fight each other for power since they're little. During this process, a lot of male lions die out but ones who win gets to be the leader for rest of its life. Each gender, has a different job to do. Females do most of the hunting and males protect their tribe from other species. Even though females get their food, males get to eat it first. For males, when other predators like hyenas try to attack them, they protect their family by eliminating the predators. [4]

Lions have the widest social abilities out of other large cats. When females hunt, they band together to get as much as food they can get. Males gather around to protect their families by hunting down their predators together. Lions tend to bond together a lot and that give advantage when they try to fight. [2]

Video

Video of an animal behaviourist, Kevin Richardson forming a remarkable bond with a entire tribe of South African lion.

References

  1. Panthera leo krugeri Wikispecies. Web. Last modified 7 November 2012. Author Unknown
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Panthera leo krugeri The Big Zoo. Web. Accessed 25 Mar 14. Author unknown.
  3. 3.0 3.1 African lion (Panthera leo krugeri) Lincoln Park Zoo. Web. Accessed 25 Mar 14. Author unknown.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 South African Lion Denver Zoo. Web. Accessed 6 Apr 14. Author unknown.
  5. BASIC FACTS ABOUT LIONS Defenders Of Wildlife. Web. Accessed 25 Mar 14. Author unknown.