How Many Types Of Lions Are There?

Are you captivated by the majestic kings of the African savannah? Lions are undoubtedly one of the most iconic and revered animals on the planet. 

In this blog, we will delve into the main types of lions found in East Africa, their distinct characteristics, and the regions they inhabit. 

Join us on this thrilling journey to discover the diverse species and breeds of lions that roam the wild landscapes of East Africa.

Two Main Species of Lions

The two main species of lions found in East Africa are the Northern lion (Panthera leo leo) and the Southern lion (Panthera leo melanochaita).

These subspecies of lions are known for their majestic appearance, powerful presence, and incredible hunting skills. While they share many similarities, there are distinct physical and behavioral characteristics that set them apart.

The Different Types Of Lions

While the following lions belong to the two main species of lions, they have slightly different characteristics and traits that can help them to be told apart.

Katanga Lion (Southwest African Lion)

Size: Adult lions weigh anywhere between 140-250 kgs (308-551 pounds), and lionesses weigh between 105-170 kgs (231-375 pounds)

The Katanga lion, also known as the Southwest African lion, is a remarkable breed found in the southwestern regions of Africa. These lions have adapted to the arid landscapes and exhibit unique physical features, such as a lighter coat and a more robust mane. They are known for their resilience and ability to survive in challenging environments.

Transvaal Lion (Southeastern Lion)

Size: Males average 150-204 kgs (330-450 pounds). Females are smaller, at 110-181 kgs (243-400 pounds).

The Transvaal lion, also known as the Southeastern lion, resides in the southeastern regions of Africa. These lions are characterized by their larger size and impressive physical strength. They are known for their distinctive black manes and powerful roars, commanding respect within their territories.

Barbary Lion

Size: Head-to-tail length of stuffed males in zoological collections varies from 2.35 to 2.8 m (7 ft 9 in to 9 ft 2 in), and of females around 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in).

The Barbary lion, also known as the Atlas lion, was historically found in North Africa, particularly in the Atlas Mountains. Though extinct in the wild, efforts are underway to reintroduce this magnificent breed. Barbary lions were known for their robust manes and were once revered as symbols of royalty.

East African Lion

Size: Average head-to-body length of male lions is 2.47–2.84 m (8.1–9.3 ft) with a weight of 148 – 191 kgs (327-421 pounds).

The Nubian lion, also referred to as the East African lion, roams the savannahs and grasslands of East Africa. These lions are known for their robust stature and beautiful manes. They exhibit a remarkable social structure, living in prides that consist of related females and their offspring.

Asiatic Lion

Size: Length (head and body): Male 170–250 cm; Female 140–175cm. The largest Asiatic Lion on record measured 2.9m from nose to tail-tip. Shoulder height: Male 100–123cm; Female 80–107cm

The Asiatic lion, also known as the Indian lion, is found in the Gir Forest of India. While not native to East Africa, it is worth mentioning this rare and endangered species. Asiatic lions are slightly smaller than their African counterparts, with a distinct fold of skin along their bellies. They are a testament to the resilience and adaptability of these magnificent creatures.

West African Lion

Size: Average head-to-body length of male lions is 2.47–2.84 m (8.1–9.3 ft) with a weight of 148 –191 kg (327–421 pounds).

The West African lion resides in the western regions of Africa and is considered a distinct population of lions. They have adapted to the challenging habitats of the region and possess strong physiques and powerful jaws. These lions are known for their tenacity and fierce hunting abilities.

Plan A Lion Safari with Kikooko Africa Safaris

Now that you have gained insights into the captivating types of lions in East Africa, it’s time to plan your unforgettable lion safari. 

At Kikooko Africa Safaris, we specialize in creating customized safari experiences that bring you up close and personal with these majestic creatures. Contact us today to learn more about seeing the lion – and the Big Five – in East Africa.


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