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Females cooperate when hunting and prey mostly on large ungulates, including antelope, deer, buffalo, zebra and even giraffe.
In the Pleistocene, lions were the most widespread large land mammals and ranged throughout Eurasia, Africa and North America.
Today, the lion occurs in fragmented populations in Sub-Saharan Africa and one in western India.
It has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1996, as populations in African range countries declined by about 43% since the early 1990s.
A lion pride consists of a few adult males, related females and cubs.
Prides vary in size and composition from three to 20 adult lions, depending on habitat and prey availability.
Results showed little genetic diversity between lions from Asia, West and Central Africa, whereas lions from East Africa were genetically closer to lions from Southern Africa.
Results of another phylogeographic study indicate that lions in southeastern Ethiopia, western Somalia and northern Kenya are genetically mixed between lions from Central Africa and those from other parts of East Africa, and that lions in the northern part of Central Africa are genetically closer to lions in North and West Africa, and those in the southern part of Central Africa closer to lions in Southern Africa.
Results indicated that lions form three phylogeographic groups, one each in North Africa and Asia, in Central Africa and in Southern Africa.
Samples of 53 lions, both wild and captive individuals, from 15 countries were used for phylogenetic analysis.
It has been extensively depicted in sculptures and paintings, on national flags, and in contemporary films and literature.
Lions have been kept in menageries since the time of the Roman Empire, and have been a key species sought for exhibition in zoos over the world since the late 18th century.
The Asiatic lion persica was the most distinctive, and the Cape lion had characteristics allying it more with P. Lions in eastern Kenya are genetically much closer to lions in Southern Africa than to lions in the Aberdare National Park in western Kenya.