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Photographer's Note

The lion (Panthera leo) is one of the four big cats. Its closest relatives are: the tiger, the jaguar, and the leopard.

Panthera leo itself evolved in Africa 1 million years ago, before spreading throughout. About 10,000 years ago, the lion was the most widespread large land mammal after humans. Most lions now live in eastern and southern Africa, and their numbers there are rapidly decreasing, with an estimated 30–50 percent decline over the last two decades.

Lions are unusually social compared to other cats. A pride of lions consists of related females and offspring and a small number of adult males. Groups of female lions typically hunt together, preying mostly on large ungulates. Lionesses do most of the hunting; males attached to prides do not usually participate in hunting, except in the case of larger quarry such as giraffe and buffalo.

Most lionesses will have reproduced by the time they are four years of age. Lions do not mate at any specific time of year, and a lioness may mate with more than one male when she is in heat; during a mating bout, which could last several days, the couple copulates twenty to forty times a day and are likely to forgo eating. :-)

The average gestation period is around 110 days, the female giving birth to a litter of one to four cubs in a secluded den usually away from the rest of the pride. She will often hunt by herself whilst the cubs are still helpless, staying relatively close to the thicket or den where the cubs are kept.

The cubs themselves are born blind—their eyes do not open until roughly a week after birth. The lioness moves her cubs to a new den site several times a month, carrying them one by one by the nape of the neck, to prevent scent from building up at a single den site and thus avoiding the attention of predators that may harm the cubs. As many as 80 percent of the cubs will die before the age of two.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lion

Took the shot in Masai Mara, Kenya. Cropped, increased sharpness & saturation, applied retouches and gradual toning.

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Additional Photos by Erdem Kutukoglu (Suppiluliuma) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 266 W: 105 N: 604] (3931)
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