From lions with practically mythological features to some you may have never heard of here are eight of the most unique lions in the world.
liger might sound like something out of a fantasy movie, but ligers are real. A cross between a male lion and a female tiger.
The liger is the result of man-made breeding but because lions are from Africa and tigers are from Asia, the liger is not something usually found in nature.
Sadly they seem to mostly have been created as a way to entertain people at zoos with most ligers coming in much
larger than any lion or tiger.
They are believed to suffer from a form of gigantism which means they do not stop growing.
This means they often have bone muscle and joint problems there are also often genetic mutations.
When the lion and tiger breed together one can’t deny they look unique, though with equal parts lion and tiger they are usually tiny or light in color with the stripes of a tiger. why do tigers have stripes and lions don’t?
Most usually weigh in at almost 1 000 pounds and can eat over 50 pounds of raw meat at every meal.
With geography and obstacle and cross-breeding resulting in offspring with various medical problems,
it might be better to just imagine a world with ligers in it than to see these animals suffer for entertainment
(2) Asiatic Lions
Lions are one of the most majestic animals in the world but that doesn’t mean they are not at
risk the Asiatic lion is one such species whose numbers are dwindling with only several hundred of the Asiatic lions still surviving.
The Asiatic lion which is smaller than other lions is only found in a very small area of the world although they were once found from turkey across Asia to eastern India due to being hunted to near extinction.
They are now only found in the Gua forest in India, an area smaller than greater London about 10 percent smaller than their African cousins.
Asiatic lions have a larger tuft of fur on their tails and have a distinctive fold on their bellies the males of the species tend to live away from the females unless they are ready to mate or have a big kill. Why do lions live in pride?
The males also have a shorter darker mane than African lions, almost extinct they now live in areas that protect them from poaching.
The 5 sanctuaries of forest poaching are not the only problem these lions must face. Forest fires other natural disasters and the population encroaching on their natural habitat all put them at risk.
They need grasslands, acacia patches, and orchards as a refuge but as development continues to seep its way into these natural areas humans and lions continue to interact putting these noble creatures in danger of once again falling victim to possible extinction.
(3) Barbary lion
Barbary or atlas lions were once known to roam through the deserts of northern Africa, often found from Morocco to Egypt.
They were the largest of the lion’s subspecies admired for their dark manes and known to have been once kept by royal families of Morocco and other Northern African nations.
You might know these lions best as ones that battled gladiators in the ancient Roman coliseum as well as being displayed at many European zoos sadly these events are what led to their decline with so many being killed for sport.
Others pushed into smaller territories and European hunters arrived to hunt those that remained. Barbary Lion vs Siberian Tiger
By the 1920s, western scientists believed they were completely extinct but as late as the mid-1960s research shows that there could have been a small pocket of Barbary lions still alive in Algeria and morocco.
Various nature conservancy programs researched and found accounts of sightings well after 1922 from remote Algerian communities who swear they saw these lions in the wild.
It would be nice to think that despite being hunted or used for sports the species could have survived in the wild long after they were thought to have died out.
This largest of the lion subspecies was known for their long dark-haired manes that extended over their shoulders and down to their bellies.
They were believed to have adopted these colors and their large size due to environmental temperatures in the atlas mountains which were much lower than the other regions in Africa and their nutrition with some zoos boasting that they still have true Barbary lions in their hands.
Including one Czech zoo that had two Barbary lion cubs born in 2019 one can hope these majestic creatures still exist and even though seeing them in captivity isn’t ideal. It may be better than the alternative of them going completely extinct.
(4) Transvaal lion
One of the most unique species of lions is the Transvaal lion named for the transfer region of Africa where they were found, this lion looks different than others at first sight.
Born with a condition known as leucism these lions have a lighter coloring in their coats with their cubs born completely white.
They do still retain coloring on their nose and feet pads and some are known to have blue eyes as the lions age their fur becomes more cream-colored preferring to live in semi-arid habitats like grasslands and savannas.
They are known to hunt large animals like wildebeests, buffaloes impalas gazelles, and zebras ranging from 400 pounds.
The females are slightly smaller than the males who have been known to reach over 550 pounds and stand from three to four feet reaching the age of maturity around three or four years of age.
Transvaal lions only live for about 10 years in the wild.
(5) Ethiopian lion
In a remote national park in Ethiopia, a species of lion believed to be extinct was rediscovered in 2016.
Wildlife conservationists from oxford university in England had heard stories from park staff and locals about lions living in Alatash national park in northwest Ethiopia near Sudan after setting up a series of cameras to capture photos overnight.
The team captured images of the rare central African species, the Ethiopian lion although the original population of lions in the early part of the last century saw some 400,000 lions across Africa.
The count has now dwindled to only around 20,000, so for conservationists, these sightings are exciting with an estimated 100 to 200 lions believed to live in the national park.
Although some might believe poaching is the main reason for such declines.
Wildlife program manager mark jones believes conflict with locals’ loss of habitat and loss of prey are more dire consequences for the lion population.
Sightings of this rare species are indeed exciting when an ornithologist from the University of Utah traveled to the bale mountains national park in 2017.
He intended to study the long-term effects of climate change on birds as it turned out he ended up stumbling upon one of the black-maned Ethiopian lions while out at night, capturing footage of this rare creature out for a nightly stroll a truly once in a lifetime experience.
(6) Ababa Lion
Ababa lion while you might think all lion species are related in some way researchers recently discovered the
Addis Ababa lion in Ethiopia is actually genetically different than other lion populations due to this finding their hope is for stricter conservation.
Actions to preserve the vulnerable species, the lions whose long dark manes and smaller size sets them visually apart from other lion species have distinct DNA, which was discovered by a team who studied the 15 lions captive in the Addis Ababa zoo.
They found that the males at the zoo were the last existing lions to have the distinctive mane making them genetically distinct from all existing lion populations by treating these lions as genetically different. The life of lions in the wild
It would allow conservationists to further protect them from extinction by instilling a captive breeding program.
They would hopefully be able to preserve this most unique subspecies in Ethiopia where lions continue to dwindle Originally belonging to the late emperor of Ethiopia, these lions continue to be a link to the past of the Ethiopian species.
And while some still hope that studying them might provide links to wild relatives, protecting those that remain is the only way to stave off the extinction of this unique species.
(7) White lion
In March of 2018, wildlife guides at a game reserve in South Africa came upon a sight.
They never expected a rare white lion cub in the wild while watching a male lion sleeping near the Timbavati river a field guide at the reserve named Lyle McCabe heard the call of a young cub coming from a nearby thicket.
Moving closer to investigate, McCabe, saw the lion pokes its head up from where it was nursing even though white lion cubs are not completely unheard of they are rare because they are only born when both parents have a recessive mutation in the gene that produces melanins not considered albino.
These white lions are known as leucistic because they do retain some pigments on different areas of their bodies their majestic appearance has given them the distinction of being revered as sacred beings by tribes in southern Africa.
They are also considered symbols of leadership and pride to those living in the Timbavati region they are known to have gold or blue eyes with black features on their noses and behind their ears.
The males have white blonde or pale hair in their manes and on the ends of their tails, sadly because they look so different it often means white lion cubs are more susceptible to attack from other predators because they stand out.
Their usual tawny color allows them to more easily blend into the tall grasses and other vegetation.
They also hunt more at night which would put white lions at a further disadvantage when trying to stay camouflaged while tracking prey unfortunately putting white lions into captivity to breed them is not a better option
A study done on 19 white lion cubs bred at a zoo in Italy showed that 4 were stillborn and another 13 did not survive the first month.
Only one of the cubs lived for an extended period and even then it suffered from neurological disabilities.
No one knows why they fare better in the wild as opposed to breeding in captivity but for now, we can have some hope that even in the wild this rare breed is known to survive up to 18 years and continues to persevere.
(8) Cape Lion
Is the second-largest and heaviest of lion subspecies the cape lion weighed over 600 pounds and was 1.5 times larger than the average African lion.
Distinguished by its thick black mane and gold fringe around its face the big cat was known to grow up to 11 feet long and weighed up to 500 pounds.
Named for its native range on the cape of Africa, the lion was one of two sub-species living in the crew plains of South Africa in and around cape town.
Unfortunately due to dutch and English settlers coming to the continent to hunt for sport the cape lion having lived five hundred thousand years ago finally went extinct when the last of the lions were killed in the mid-1800s.
Some believe that because subspecies tend to interbreed, it is possible cape lions were an isolated tribe of trans fall lions who as we talked about already still survive in South Africa.
The sad fate of these lions can be directly connected to overhunting.
But in the early 2000s, some were supposedly discovered in a Russian zoo with plans to do genetic testing and introduce a re-breeding program to bring the now extinct species back to prominence.
The hopes of repopulating the cape lion disintegrated when the zoo director died in 2010 and the zoo closed.
Today only stuffed specimens remain with natural history museums in London, Paris, and Germany displaying these lost links to a noble species
8 Unique Lions List
- Asiatic Lion
- Barbary Lion
- Transvaal lion
- Ethiopian Lion
- Ababa Lion
- White Lion
- Cape Lion
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