Is the King of the Jungle the Largest Cat?Lions live for 10–14 years in the wild, and longer than 20 years in captivity. Until about 10,000 years ago, the lion was the most widespread large land mammal after humans. Lions have disappeared from 75% of their current range in sub-Saharan Africa, parts of Asia and an endangered remnant population in the Gir Forest National Park of India. The West African lion population is particularly endangered.
The African lion population dropped nearly 50% during the last half of the 20th century, from an estimated range of 100,000 – 400,000 in 1950 to a range of 16,500-47,000 living in the wild by 2004. This severe decline makes the lion a vulnerable species.
What is causing the lion to disappear? Habitat destruction and fragmentation, loss of traditional prey species, disease, inevitable conflict with humans, and especially the unsustainable international trade and trophy hunting. The United States is by far the world’s largest importer of both commercially traded African lion specimens and lion trophies. This trend is only increasing.
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Oh, and in answer to “Is the King of the Jungle the Largest Cat?” Lions are the second largest living cat. The tiger is larger (another highly endangered animal).