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The relative importance of these factors is debated, and it is not clear which was responsible for the establishment of group life and which are secondary benefits. Lions prey on a large variety of animals ranging in size from rodents and baboon s to Cape or African buffalo and hippopotamuses , but they predominantly hunt medium- to large-sized hoofed animals such as wildebeests, zebras , and antelopes. Prey preferences vary geographically as well as between neighbouring prides. Lions are known to take elephants and giraffes , but only if the individual is young or especially sick.

They readily eat any meat they can find, including carrion and fresh kills that they scavenge or forcefully steal from hyenas , cheetahs , or wild dogs. However, male lions are also adept hunters, and in some areas they hunt frequently. Pride males in scrub or wooded habitat spend less time with the females and hunt most of their own meals.

Nomadic males must always secure their own food. Typically, they stalk prey from nearby cover and then burst forth to run it down in a short, rapid rush. After leaping on the prey, the lion lunges at its neck and bites until the animal has been strangled. Other members of the pride quickly crowd around to feed on the kill, usually fighting for access. Hunts are sometimes conducted in groups, with members of a pride encircling a herd or approaching it from opposite directions, then closing in for a kill in the resulting panic. The cats typically gorge themselves and then rest for several days in its vicinity.

An adult male can consume more than 34 kg 75 pounds of meat at a single meal and rest for a week before resuming the hunt. If prey is abundant, both sexes typically spend 21 to 22 hours a day resting, sleeping, or sitting and hunt for only 2 or 3 hours a day. Lion mammal.

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Load Next Page. Additional Reading. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Article Media. Table Of Contents. Newmark [40] revealed that extinction rates in Ghanaian PAs were estimated to be 13—77 times higher than in equivalent-sized PAs in Tanzania, suggesting that larger size alone a may provide insufficient protection against the intense hunting pressure impacting West African PAs.

In addition to the lower carrying capacity of West African savannas for large herbivores [41] , higher extinction risks for West African mammals is driven by intense bushmeat hunting pressure within and adjacent to PAs [13] , [14] , facilitated by ineffective PA management Fig. Three of four extant lion populations in West Africa occur in PAs close to or larger than 4, km 2 Table 1 , representing the best prospects for saving the taxon.

However, lion population density is extremely low in the eastern half of WAP, i. In contrast, the western half, Arly-Pendjari, supports higher lion densities, stable or increasing prey populations Fig. A significantly higher operational budget is required in W to attain conservation outcomes comparable to Arly-Pendjari. While no data on management effectiveness and lion prey populations exist for Kainji Lake NP, management effectiveness scores are low in Niokolo-Koba NP, potentially due to inadequate funding Table S4 , and prey populations have collapsed to extremely low levels over the past 20 years Fig.

Both PAs hold great potential due to their large size, and are surrounded by suitable lion habitat and moderate human population densities Table S3 [4]. Besides lions, Niokolo-Koba also harbors the last important population of the critically endangered Western giant eland Tragelaphus derbianus ssp. Both PAs will require immediate financial and technical assistance to avert the local extirpation of lions and other critically endangered taxa. At 2, km 2 Nigeria's Yankari Game Reserve is smaller than our putative minimum and its lion population is very small and declining Table 1.

Yankari is completely surrounded by intensive cultivation [45] , and the second-highest human population density of all 21 LCU PAs surveyed Table S3. Drastic interventions, such as fencing the reserve, may be the only solution to safeguard this population [33].

General characteristics

Fencing Yankari could prevent inevitable encroachment by people and livestock, reduce human-lion conflicts at the PA boundary and perhaps reduce penetration of the PA by poachers. Of 12 PAs with management assessments, six had no budget for management activities, and where budgets existed they were much lower than required to conserve lion populations effectively [33]. WAP furthermore consistently received among the highest scores for management effectiveness of all PAs harboring lions Fig.

For PAs where data on population trends of principal lion prey species were available, WAP represented through Pendjari NP, where annual wildlife counts are conducted was also the only site where wildlife numbers were stable or increasing Fig. As a further indication of conservation success in WAP, this site harbors by far the largest remaining elephant population in West Africa [16] , and one of the last remaining populations of the critically endangered Northwest African cheetah Acinonyx jubatus ssp.

Many PAs reported that staff salaries were paid directly by national government and not through the individual PA management budget.

In Haut Niger, which has 15 patrol staff, assessors noted that in practice, agents do no or very few patrols due to a lack of resources and motivation; as a result poaching and illegal logging is widespread. Consequently, even in the largest formally gazetted PA in Guinea, the Kankan Faunal Reserve, where lions are potentially still present, ca 20, people live within the PA, poaching pressure is high, and antelope population densities are extremely low [47]. WAP represents the last stronghold for lions in West Africa.

Conservation interventions in WAP are heavily subsidized by large international funding bodies, such as the European Union and the World Bank. However, overall investment in conservation activities is extremely low in West Africa, compared to Central, Eastern and Southern Africa [48]. That will rely on the provision of substantial financial and technical assistance to range states, principally by the international community, to increase management effectiveness of PAs with lions.

For any such investments, it will be imperative that a conservation initiatives assure sound governance over the funds [49] , and b adequate funding levels are sustained in the long-term to achieve desired outcomes; a review of best practices can be found in Blom et al. It is imperative to address very widespread poaching of lion prey species and illegal killing of lions by pastoralists within and around PAs [14] , [51] , [52]. We believe urgent priority must be given to a dual strategy that focuses on 1.

Investment should also be directed toward developing and enhancing photographic tourism in politically stable countries such as Benin and Senegal. This will help to create and maintain economic incentives for lion conservation, and develop enduring revenue streams for PA management not wholly reliant on donor funding.

The situation for the lion in West Africa is dire. Recognition of a West-Central African sub-species is supported by recent findings establishing the principal division of extant lions within Africa, and would correctly recognize the genetic uniqueness of West African populations [8] , [9]. Irrespective of taxonomic status, we recommend listing the lion as critically endangered in West Africa. Considering the relative poverty of lion range states in West Africa, we call for the mobilization of substantial and urgent investment by the international community to assist these countries in improving management effectiveness of PAs containing lions.

Lions persist in some of the largest and most intact protected landscapes in West Africa, where they co-occur with some of the last remaining populations of critically endangered mammals including Northwest African cheetahs, Western giant elands and African wild dogs.

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Further deterioration of those last wilderness areas in West Africa will likely cause the loss of genetically distinct populations of charismatic megafauna and further preclude already tenuous, potential future revenue streams from photographic tourism for West African nations.

Without immediate action, we believe the opportunity to save both will be lost. PA attributes for the 21 PAs in this study and details on the field surveys, regarding survey methods and effort, and findings regarding the presence of lions and other species of conservation concern. We thank the respective wildlife authorities for assisting efforts to conduct lion surveys in the protected areas covered in the present study. Specific thanks go to M.


Ndao in Senegal, A. Gonto, D. Azani and I. Sam in Ghana, A. Tehou, M. Kiki and C. Sewade in Benin, P. Nyanganji from WCS in Nigeria. We thank L. Leverington for the identification of additional PA management data, and C. Breitenmoser, one anonymous reviewer and the editor for helpful comments on the manuscript. The authors are solely responsible for the content and functionality of these materials. Queries other than absence of the material should be directed to the corresponding author.

Analyzed the data: PH LC.

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Browse Subject Areas? Click through the PLOS taxonomy to find articles in your field. Introduction The lion Panthera leo was the most successful large carnivore during the late Pleistocene, when the species' range extended from South Africa, across Eurasia, and into the southern United States [1]. Download: PPT. Figure 1. Field surveys Between October and May , we conducted field surveys in PAs within designated LCUs, to 1 confirm lion presence for PAs where evidence of lion occurrence was lacking, and 2 establish lion population estimates for PAs where lions occurred.

Table 1. Estimating lion population size If lions were found in a given PA, we used systematic track counts [28] or call-ups [30] to estimate lion population size, depending on local conditions. Figure 2. Lion status in West African protected areas within lion range. Figure 3. Table 2.

PA management characteristics by lion presence and absence continuous data. Figure 4. Discussion The lion has undergone a catastrophic collapse in West Africa. Figure 5. Populations trends for principal lion prey species in West African protected areas. The state of PAs in West Africa Of 12 PAs with management assessments, six had no budget for management activities, and where budgets existed they were much lower than required to conserve lion populations effectively [33].

Supporting Information. Supporting Information S1. Table S1. Table S2. PA management variables used in this study, with sample sizes number of PAs. Table S3. Table S4. Acknowledgments We thank the respective wildlife authorities for assisting efforts to conduct lion surveys in the protected areas covered in the present study. References 1. Molecular Ecology — View Article Google Scholar 2. IUCN Panthera leo. In: IUCN Version Available: www.

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Story XI. The Lion who Hunted with the Wolf and the Fox

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