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The black-maned Kalahari lions

by Tswalu Kalahari on Sat, August 10, 2013 in News, Wildlife, 

Big male 2The Kalahari lions are known for their majestic size and beautiful manes, although they are actually the same species as other lions found across Africa.

The contrast between their tawny coloured bodies and their black manes is striking and gives them a very regal look.

Big male 3

Ranger and wildlife photographer Marco Tonoli has written about why the lions of the Kalahari are one of the largest in Africa.

He believes that when resources are thin, competition is rife. “Areas with higher rainfall generally have greater densities of plains game, so the availability of food for predators is higher and the chances of survival for weaker individuals is greater. However, the semi-desert environment of the southern Kalahari is limited by the low levels of rainfall, leading to lower densities of herbivores per square kilometre. This means that lion prides not only have larger territories, but competition with other prides and individuals is rife. The weak or injured are quickly displaced by fitter more dominant individuals. Only the strongest survive and reproduce. The outcome over time is the continuous elimination of weaker genes and the ongoing survival of the stronger genes, which results in bigger lions.”

Black-Maned LionLike the rest of the lions in Africa, however, they are in danger of becoming extinct. According to the website www.worldlionday.com, in 1975 there was an estimated 250,000 lions in Africa, yet today the continent wide population stands at a mere 25 – 30,000 individuals. This staggering 80-90% decline combines with the fragmentation and isolation of those remaining sub-populations with little long-term viability.