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Because of its strength, majesty and fierceness, the lion is called the King of the Beasts. It and the tiger are the largest members of the cat family. A full-grown male lion, standing just over a meter high and weighing about 225 kilograms, may be more than 3 meters long from his nose to the tip of his tail.

Today the lion is generally thought of as an African animal, and lions are certainly much commoner in Africa than anywhere else, but there are also a few in the west of India. Once they lived in Europe and the East as well, but they have now become extinct in these areas due to irresponsible human activities.

The lion can be told apart immediately from the lioness because of the enormous, heavy mane of hair that covers its powerful head and shoulders. The coloring of lions may be golden or reddish brown, nearly black or almost silver grey. The mane is nearly always darker than the rest of the coat, and the underpart of the body is lighter than the back. Lionesses are smaller and lighter in color than male lions.

Like other cats, lions have soft-padded feet. In the tuft of hair at the tip of their long tails is a single spur, or claw-like object, but no one knows its use or the reason for its existence. Sandy or rocky plains or open grasslands with scattered trees are the haunts of lions, and their coats blend very well with the background of sun-scorched land. Often they live in huge families which are sometimes known as prides. The deep=throated, thunderous roar of the lion is one of the most terrifying sounds in nature.

Lions generally hunt at night, spending the day sleeping or lying up in cover or in the shade of rocks and trees. The lion hunts by lying in wait for its prey beside a water hole or by stalking it patiently across the open plain. The kill is made quickly, the lion pulling down its victim in a lightning-fast rush and killing it with a blow of its paw. A full-grown male lion can drag an animal as large as a horse in its jaws. Lions often hunt in groups and it is said that some lions will lie in ambush while others drive prey towards them.

Although they are dangerous animals to disturb, ions do not often attack human beings. Sometimes, however, an old lion that is getting too slow to catch the swift wild creatures will turn his attention to men, and sometimes a younger lion becomes a regular man-eater, often by accident. Lions will often attack cattle and other domestic animals, breaking into enclosures and carrying off their prey.

Young lions are generally born three at a time, but sometimes there are only two and occasionally as many as six. Both the male and female may help to look after the young, and the lioness is a devoted mother. The cubs have spots when they are born. Some scientists think that this is because lions may once have been forest animals and had markings to camouflage themselves. Lions have no natural enemies, but have been hunted by man, who both feared and respected the lion's strength. Lions are today protected in game parks and reserves in Africa other countries.

   
Answer the following questions using complete sentences
  1. What are the attributes of the lion that it is accorded the title 'King of the Beasts' ?
  2. Why is the lion commonly thought of as an African animal ?
  3. In what way is the lion more majestic in appearance than the lioness ?
  4. What do animals in the cat family have in common ?
  5. List one way you think the soft-padded feet may be useful to the lion.
  6. How is the strength of the lion demonstrated ?
  7. Do you agree that in the wild, an old lion is potentially more dangerous to human beings than a young one ? Explain.
  8. How do some people explain the presence of spots on lion cubs at birth ?
  9. What evidence is there that man has caused great harm to the lion ?
  10. What has man done to ensure that the lion will survive ?
 
Answers
 

1.

It is accorded this title because of its strength, majesty and fierceness.
 

2.

It is commonly thought of as an African animal because it is most commonly found in Africa today.
 

3.

The lion's heavy mane of hair and its larger size makes it look more majestic than the lioness.
 

4.

Animals n the cat family have soft-padded feet.
 

5.

It may be useful in muffling noises as the lion stalks its prey.
  6. It is so strong it can drag an animal as large as a horse.
  7. Yes, I agree. An old loin that is too slow to catch wild creatures may attack human beings who are much slower.
  8. They believe lions were once forest animals and had spots to camouflage themselves.
  9. Man and his activities has caused the lion to become extinct in Europe and the East.
  10. Man has set up game parks and reserves to protect the lion.
 
 

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