The lion is known as the ‘king of the jungle’ and is one of the five big cats of the genus Panthera. They are the only cats that live in groups, called ‘prides’, which are made up of family units. Male lions have manes (fringes of long hair that encircle their heads) and they defend the pride’s territory. Female lions are the pride’s primary hunters and often work together. Young lions do not help to hunt until they are about one year old.
There has been much debate among scientists about the proper taxonomy of the lion. Some scientists believe that all lions are derived from a single ancestor and therefore should all be considered Panthera leo leo. Others believe that they should be broken down into sub-species, the existing sub-species being: north east Congo lion, Katanga or southwest African lion, Indian lion, Congo lion, South African lion or southeast African lion, Massai lion, east African lion, Asiatic lion or south Asian lion, Abyssinian lion, Somali lion, west African lion or Senegal lion and Kalahari lion.
The Katanga lions are found in Namibia, Zaire, Angola, Botswana and Zambia. Their prey mostly include zebras, warthogs, wildebeests and antelopes. Males’ manes tend to be lighter in colour than those of other subspecies.