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Where do Lions Live in the World?

We call him the king of the jungle, but does he really live in the jungle? The lion, this majestic animal as it is so often said on our website, was once a beast that roamed freely throughout the world! But today, due to its massive extinction, it is only present in certain regions of the world.

Were there lions in Europe? In America? Where are the lions of Asia and Africa? In this article, you will discover where the lion lives now and where it lived in the past!

lion t-shirts

Where do Lions Live: Habitat

It is often said that the lion is the king of the jungle, but in reality, it does not live in the jungle! This environment would be too narrow because of the dense vegetation for the lion who prefers an open environment with few trees like the savannah.

This biotope is ideal for the lion because it allows him to hunt his prey more easily by chasing them over long distances, also, he needs a wide vision to track his game, in the jungle, it is more complicated. Moreover, he would be in competition with the tiger, which lives in the jungle.

This misconception of the Hindu word "jungli", from which the term "jungle" originates, comes from the fact that it originally just means an uninhabited place, such as a grassland or a desert, rather than a tropical forest.

However, a lion population has been observed in Ethiopia's Harenna Forest, which is a jungle as well as in the Kafa Biosphere Reserve in the same country.

So some lions live in the jungle and it seems that when they were widespread in West Africa, many of them lived in the jungle, but human action has caused the lion population in these jungles to decline drastically, West Africa being the first region colonized by Europeans.

lion in europe

Are there Lions in Europe?

The oldest lion-like feline is a fossil found in Kenya dating back 3.5 million years. After this date, large leonine-looking felines began to conquer the planet. The cave lion, Panthera spelaea, which appeared in Europe 700,000 years ago, was very close to the lion we know today. It was part of the so-called giants of the Ice Age, the megafauna of the Ice Age, animals much larger than those of today. The cave lion was an efficient predator of large prey. From Europe, it spread to the rest of Eurasia, then to America.

The modern lion, Panthera leo, appeared during the last ice age. During the period when the two species coexisted, lions were the most widespread felines in the world. The cave lion was found throughout most of Eurasia, North America and as far northwest as South America.

The cave lion became extinct about 10,000 years ago, for reasons that are still unclear. The modern lion remained the only existing lion species. The decline of the modern lion began rapidly. The European lion, Panthera leo europeae, was the first subspecies to become extinct. Shortly after the end of the last ice age, 10,000 years ago, it was already disappearing from Spain, southern France and Italy. It was still found in Hungary 8500 years ago and in Ukraine 5000 years ago. Herodotus and Aristotle tell us that in the 5th century BC, lions were rare in Greece and that there were still a few in the Balkans. In the first century, Dion Chrysostom notes that the lion no longer exists in Greece, nor anywhere in Europe. The European lion became extinct about 2000 years ago, for reasons that are still unclear. We can suspect that man is not foreign to its disappearance. We know that the European lion was hunted.

lion in america

Are there Lions in America?

A giant lion species populated North America, the British Isles and Europe  between 340 000 and 11 000 years ago. A team from Oxford University analyzed the DNA of bones found in thes places and finally established that these fossils were not those of jaguars or tigers, but that they belonged to a species of giant lions. It is one of the largest and heaviest felines that ever existed.

The analyzed bones date from the Pleistocene (from -1.8 million years to -10,000 years) and were found in Siberia, Europe and all over the American continent: from Alaska to Wyoming. 
These carnivorous mammals were about 25% larger than today's lions.

Rock art associated with this period suggests that they lived in packs and that the males did not have manes.These felines would have been adapted to life on the tundra, which they would have shared with mammoths, woolly rhinoceroses and smilodons (saber-toothed tigers). These lions were close relatives of those living today. 

The genetic differences noted by researchers show that this particular species of lions was divided into two subspecies: the American lion and the cave lion, which would have populated Europe, Russia, Alaska and the Yukon.

About 11,000 years ago, these subspecies died out in a mass extinction, which remains a mystery to science.
There are several schools of thought about this. Climate change? The increasing presence of humans?

lion in asia

Are there Lions in Asia?

The lion is divided into twelve different subspecies which almost all live in Africa. There is only one asiatic lion subspecies found in Asia. If we go back 2000 years, lions could be seen from Greece to India, but today they can only be seen in the Gir National Park, in the state of Gujarat, India. 

It is necessary to know that this Asian species of lion almost became extinct in the beginning of the 20th century. To save it, the governor of Gujarat, at the time, succeeded in placing the last 20 Asiatic lions in a protected area: the Gir forest, a sanctuary of 1400 square meters. In addition, in 1955 India banned lion hunting. These factors have allowed the population of Asiatic lions to increase to over 500 today. As the number of lions is too high for such a small sanctuary, lions can be seen outside the reserve. This unfortunately triggers conflicts with humans.

Are there lions in India?

The last population of Asiatic lions is sheltered in the Gir forest in western India, but it has recently been threatened by distemper, which could decimate it permanently. 

Years of governmental efforts to ensure their conservation have resulted in the gradual repopulation of the group.

However, three years ago, the death of at least eleven felines alerted the authorities to the presence of the highly contagious distemper virus. A vaccination operation of all the lions was immediately organized.

gir forest lion

Are there lions in Afghanistan?

The historical presence of the Asiatic lion in the nation is unknown due to a lack of locale records. It was most likely found in southwestern and southern Afghanistan.

Marjan was a twenty-five-year-old lion at the Kabul Zoo that died of old age in 2002. He is an Afghan emblem of the struggles that have befallen the Afghan people because he survived wars, invasions and a grenade attack that made him become blind.

Are there lions in Sri Lanka?

No, however in the past there were. The Ceylon lion was a prehistoric lion subspecies that was only found in Sri Lanka. It appears to have died out before the appearance of culturally modern humans, around 37,000 years ago.

The lion is a Sri Lankan symbol since the arrival in 486 BC of the first king of the island: Vijaya, who came from India. It is the symbol of the Sri Lankan people and represents courage, freedom, and hope.

Are there lions in Vietnam?

There aren't lions in Vietnam, however we can find big cats in the large forests such as tigers leopards and snow leopards.

The lion and dragon dance is performed on New Year's Day, at a wedding or at the opening of a restaurant. A living tradition, it is supposed to bring luck, happiness, prosperity and to chase away evil spirits.

lion dance vietnam

Are there lions in China?

In China, lions have never existed, not even in primordial times. They were initially heard about and learned about by Indians and Persians, who depicted them in art.

The Chinese portrayal of the lion is based on myths and paintings, which is why their depiction of the lion is so wrong (their lions seem more like dogs than lions).

The Persians, China's most important trading partner, utilized lions in their artwork. Persia might have spread such pictures to China. Since lion figures were utilized in the ornamentation of Buddhist goods and temples, India is another possibility.

Are there lions in Bengladesh?

The modern country of Bangladesh (established in 1971) was not historically part of the Asiatic lion's range, although it was historically part of the Bengal region (which includes the Indian state of West Bengal).

According to British naturalist Reginald Innes Pocock, the lion's range in 1939 extended all the way to the Bengal in the east.

In 1971, the royal Bengal tiger became the national animal of Bangladesh. It replaced the lion.

african lion

Are there lions in Africa?

There are lions in Africa, however, their population is declining.

This felid lives mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. Populations are located mainly in national parks or protected areas in Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. Its natural habitat is the savannah, semi-open forests and semi-deserts.

Decimated by the loss of its habitat, hunting and poaching, the lion now occupies an area equivalent to only 15% of its original territory and its populations are constantly declining. It is now estimated that the lion population will be halved by 2035, leaving approximately 10,000 individuals in the wild.

While the situation is particularly critical in Central and West Africa, some countries such as Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa have seen an increase in lion numbers in recent years. However, these lions only live in fenced reserves, which inevitably impacts their dispersion.

Are there lions in Egypt?

There used to be lions in Egypt, but not anymore. Their population has drastically declined due to the climate changing from a perennial prehistoric atmosphere to the desert climate we know today, in addition to the Egyptian population increasing.

However, a mummified lion has been found in the tomb of Maia, the royal nurse of Tutankhamun. The first ever discovered in the Egypt of the pharaohs, confirming the existence of the cult of this animal.

lion egypt

Are there lions in Israel?

This was formerly the home of the Asiatic Lion. This is why the Lion of Judah became one of the Judeans' national emblems. Lions abound in ancient art and symbolism throughout the Middle East, not just in Israel.

According to the Old Testament book of Genesis, the tribe of Judah was one of the tribes of Israel that was traditionally represented by a lion. In the book of Genesis, the patriarch Jacob refers to his son, Judah, as a "young lion".

Are there lions in Nigeria?

Historically lions were widespread in Negeria, but now it's different: we can still find lions in Nigeria, but they are extremely rare. They are being hosted in two Nigerian protected areas: the Kainji Lake National Park (around 40 lions) and The Yankari National Park (only a few lions!)


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 Are there lions in Ghana?

The lion population in Ghana has been seldom investigated in the past, and its current state is unknown. Many scholars feel that the Ghanaian lion population is most likely extinct.

While there aren't many lions in Ghana, there have been reports of lions killing people.

Are there lions in Ethiopia?

We can find a few hundred of wild lions around the country and there are 20 kept in the Addis Ababa Zoo.

The Black Lion of Ethiopia is has an unique genetic compared to all other African Lions. They can be seen in Bale Mountain Park and are named because of their unique black mane.

lion in ethiopia

Are there lions in Kenya?

It is estimated that between 850 and 900 lions live in the Masai Mara Reserve and surrounding conservation areas.

Scarface was the real star of the game park, the one sought after by tourists visiting the reserve, one of the most famous safari destinations in sub-Saharan Africa. The Masai Mara forms one of the most spectacular ecosystems in Africa. It is home to nearly 100 species of mammals and nearly 600 known species of birds.

Are there lions in South africa?

While numbers are declining worldwide, the number of lions in South Africa is increasing every year. The country has 3,500 lions in the wild, which is 17% of the world population.

Are there Lions in Australia?

There have never been wild lions in Australia. However, there used to be a "Marsupial Lion", also known as Thylacoleo, which disappeared around 40.000 years ago. It is thought that the arrival of humans in Australia may be linked to its demise. The species is more related to wombats and kangaroos than true lions.

marsupial lion

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