are lions in East African Lion

Are Lions in East Africa? Lions are one of Africa’s most recognizable animals and for good reason: more than any other animal in the African wilderness, lions signify courage, strength, and power. Spending up to 20 hours of the day sleeping or resting, lions are the laziest of the big cats. They can be found lying on their backs with their feet up or taking a snooze in the shade. While lazing around, they are very affectionate towards one another, rubbing heads, grooming, and purring. The East African lion, however, is a Panthera leo melanochaita population in East Africa. During the 20th century, lion populations in this part of Africa became fragmented and declined in several range countries due to loss of habitat and prey base, poaching, and killing of lions to protect livestock and human life. In 2005, a Lion Conservation Strategy was developed for East and Southern Africa. Today, lion populations are stable only in large protected area complexes. Read more on the East African Lion facts, East African Lion habitat, and behavior

East African Lion Facts

Our love for Africa is embodied in our name and mascot. For us, nothing captures the essence of Africa more so than the symbol of the lion. Lions are one of Africa’s most recognizable animals and for good reason: more than any other animal in the African wilderness, lions signify courage, strength, and power.

Nothing represents the essence of East Africa more so than the East African Lion which is at the center of our brand and the nickname for our mascot “Lionel”. Check out the East African Lion facts.

Here are some amazing East African lion facts:

East African Lion Climb trees

Most lions spend all their time on the ground, but in some parks across Africa, they have learned to climb trees. Compared to leopards, they are not very graceful at climbing trees as they are not adapted for climbing. Most pride lions do not climb trees, and big males are less likely to climb a tree because they are so heavy. The reason why lions climb or sleep in trees is to get away from pesky biting flies and insects on the ground.

It can be cooler up in a tree, and they have a higher vantage point to see if any other animals are nearby. Lions may also be forced to climb a tree temporarily to try to escape from an angered herd of buffaloes. These special tree-climbing lions are most popular in Tanzania and Uganda. Queen Elizabeth National Park, Lake Manyara National Park, Lake Nakuru National Park, and Tarangire National Park are the best places to possibly see them. With that said, some lucky visitors to the Serengeti National Park have seen lions in trees too.

East African Lion

Female Lions do most of the Hunting

Lionesses are the primary hunters of the pride. They are smaller and more agile than males and they use teamwork to bring an animal down. After a successful hunt, all the lions in the pride share the meal. But there is a pecking order, with the adult males eating first, followed by the lionesses and finally the cubs. The males protect both the pride and the pride’s territory (which can extend up to 100 square miles) from competing pride and other predators. Anywhere from 85-90% of the hunting is done by the females in a given pride.

East African Lion is the second largest cat on earth

Only slightly smaller than the Siberian tiger, the lion is the second largest big cat, with a muscular, deep-chested body, short, rounded head, round ears, and a hairy tuft at the end of its tail. Unlike all other big cats that are solitary hunters, lions are social animals and live together in pride. Male lions can grow up to 10 feet in length and weigh up to 550 pounds, while female lions can grow to a length of 9 feet and weigh up to 390 pounds

They are Social

Lions are the most sociable of all the big cats. They live in groups called pride, which usually consist of related females and their offspring. The typical pride consists of ten to fifteen lions, with several adult females, their cubs, and up to four males. Some lion pride can be as large as 40 members!

East African Lions are superb Hunters

Lions hunt by ambush. Fanning out, they form a semicircle, with the smaller lionesses herding the prey toward the center. A lion’s vision is roughly six times more sensitive to light than humans, giving them a distinct advantage when hunting at night. Lion’s claws are retractable, reaching up to 1 ½ inches in length, allowing for tremendous control when it needs to go in for a kill. Lions can also reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour in short bursts and can jump up to 36 feet.  So, it is easy to see why the lion is referred to as the “king of the jungle”.

East African Lion do not live in Jungles

Although lions are known as the “king of the jungle”, lions in East Africa do not actually live in a jungle. Instead, their primary habitats consist of Africa’s grasslands and plains. Three of the five largest lion populations are found in the wide-open savannas of Tanzania.

Female Lion of East Africa raise cubs together

Females in the same pride tend to give birth around the same time, which allows multiple litters to be raised together. Lionesses will take care of their cubs until they reach the age of two or three. The mother then goes through estrus (heat cycle) and carries another litter. This is when the pride forces the male lion cubs and some of the female lion cubs out. They must now fend for themselves or find another pride. Male lions do not directly participate in parenting, but they will protect the pride’s cubs from danger. Did you know that lion cubs have two other names? Though they are usually referred to as cubs, lion babies have two other names: “whelps” and “lionets”.

East African Lion Communicate in many ways

Lions communicate in different ways using sounds like roars, growls, moans, and grunts. Also, by leaving scent markings and through visual signals, such as the darkness of the mane. They also rub their heads on one another as an act of bonding and to spread the “family scent”. A lion’s roar can be heard up to 5 miles away. This is a warning to other predators and to protect their territory from competing males, also to attract mating partners. Marking the end of East African Lion facts!

East African Lion Habitat

The East African lion habitat. In East Africa, lions inhabit a wide variety of habitats including savanna and arid landscapes, open grasslands, and miombo woodlands.

  • Somalia since the early 20th century. Intensive poaching since the 1980s and civil unrest in El Buur District posed a threat to lion persistence.
  • Uganda to near extinction due to poaching since the 1970s following civil unrest.
  • Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1990s during the first and second civil wars.
  • Kenya in the 1990s due to the poisoning of lions and poaching of lion prey species. At least 108 lions were killed between 2001 and 2006 in the Amboseli-Tsavo East-Tsavo West protected area network.
  • Rwanda and Tanzania due to the killing of lions during the Rwandan Civil War and the ensuing refugee crisis in the 1990s.

The contemporary distribution of the East African lion habitat quality in East Africa was assessed in 2005, and Lion Conservation Units were mapped. Between 2002 and 2012, educated guesses for the size of populations in the East African Lion Conservation Units ranged from 20,485 to 18,308 individuals.

Range countriesLion Conservation UnitsArea in km2
Democratic Republic of CongoMassif D’itombwe, Luama8,441
Democratic Republic of Congo, UgandaQueen Elizabeth-Virunga5,583
UgandaToro-Semulik, Lake Mburo, Murchison Falls4,800
Somalia, KenyaBushbush-Arawale22,540
KenyaLaikipia-Samburu, Meru and Nairobi National Parks43,706
Kenya, TanzaniaSerengeti-Mara and Tsavo-Mkomazi75,068
TanzaniaDar-Biharamulo, Ruaha-Rungwa, Mpanga-Kipengere, Tarangire, Wami Mbiki-Saadani, Selous384,489

The Lion Conservation Units Serengeti-Mara, Tsavo-Mkomazi, Ruaha-Rungwa, and Selous are currently considered lion strongholds in East Africa. They host more than 500 individuals each, and the population trend is stable.


In the Serengeti National Park, lion pride has been monitored since 1966. Between 1966 and 1972, two observed lion pride comprised between seven and 10 females each that had litters once in 23 months on average. Litters contained two to three cubs. Females suckled cubs of other females when their cubs were of similar age. Of 87 cubs born until 1970, only 12 reached the age of two years. Cubs died due to starvation in months when large prey was not available, following the take-over of pride by new males, or of unknown causes. 

Male lion coalitions were more successful in taking over pride than single males. Coalitions of six males stayed longer with pride than smaller male groups. Between 1974 and 2012, 471 coalitions comprising 796 male lions entered a study area of 2,000 km2 (770 sq mi). Of these, 35 nomadic coalitions included male lions that were born in the area but had left and returned after about two years of absence. Coalitions became residents between 3.5 and 7.3 years of age.

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