The objective of our team is to give concrete and real facts. No false stories or inventions out of nowhere. The lineage of white lions does exist, and they are incredible beasts.
However, to our great despair they have been threatened for decades, leading directly to their complete extinction in the wild for 12 years. Fortunately, conservationists are invested in an ongoing battle to ensure a future for the white lions.
1) the Characteristics of the White Lion
- Zoological Name: Panthera Leo
- Common Name : White Lion
- Order: Carnivore
- Species : Mammal
- Size: The white lion measures up to 3 meters long and 1.2 meters high for males. The females measure up to 2 meters long and 1 meter high.
- Weight: Up to 250 kilos for males and up to 180 kilos for females.
- Lifespan: 18 years
- Diet: Bovids, small birds, reptiles
- Habitat : They live in the Savannah, the forest and the desert.
- Population: There are 100 white lions in captivity and 13 in the wild.
- Conservation Status: Vulnerable (source: IUCN Red List)
2) Habitat and Distribution of the White Lion
The white lion is found in the savannah, forest and desert areas. These formidable felines are native to the Greater Timbavati region of southern Africa and are protected in the Kruger Wildlife Park in South Africa. Unfortunately, the white lions were hunted to extinction in the wild until their reintroduction in 2004.
Following the ban on trophy hunting in the Timbavati region and the surrounding nature reserves, the very first white lions were born in the region in 2006. The first white lion cubs were born in 2014 in the Kruger Zoological Park.
3) Diet and Behavior of the White Lion
Not surprisingly, white lions are carnivorous and feed on a variety of herbivorous animals. They hunt zebras as well as buffalo, gazelles, turtles and wildebeest. The white lions’ sharp teeth and claws allow them to kill their prey.
Lions usually stalk their prey in packs waiting for the right time to strike. In the majority of cases, lions end the life of their prey by strangulation and the rest of the group consumes the carcass, starting with the males and then the females and cubs last.
4) Reproduction and Offspring
Like all brown lions, white lions will reach sexual maturity at around three to four years of age. Due to their small numbers, the majority of white lions are raised and born in captivity in zoos most of the time. White lions in captivity have the opportunity to mate every year, while those in the wild mate approximately every two years. It is important to know that cubs are born blind and therefore depend on their mother during the first two years of their life. A lioness will usually give birth between two to four cubs in a litter.
In order for the cubs to be white lions, the parents must be white lions themselves or they must carry the rare white lion gene. There are three possibilities for a white lion to be born, firstly if both tawnies carry the gene there is a 25% chance that a white lion will be born. If one of the two parents is a white lion and the second tawny has the gene then there is about a 50% chance that a white lion will be born. If the lions are white then a white cub will be born with a 100% chance.
5) Misconception and Genetics
White lions do not have albinism!
White lions are rare because they can only be born if both parents have a recessive mutation in a gene that produces colored pigments called melanins. Technically, these wild animals have leukism, not albinism, because they have a certain pigment in certain areas, such as the eyes.
On the other hand, albino lions lack pigment completely, while lions affected by leucism show black lines on the tip of the nose, black spots behind the ears, and an “eyeliner” effect around the eyes.
It is also important for people to realize that white lions are not a species or subspecies in their own right. Due to their light-colored coats, many people believe that white lions are at a disadvantage compared to other lions. Some people say that white lions cannot camouflage or hide from roaming male lions.
During the year 2012, a series entitled “White Lions” was published where two female white lions were followed. A 10-year scientific study as well as this series proved the opposite by demonstrating that white lions in their natural habitat are just as capable of being good predators as wild brown lions.
6) a Powerful Symbol
The symbol of the lion is extremely powerful, however the white lion is not only of exceptional genetic rarity, its significance goes much further.
It was in the Timbavati region of South Africa that the white lion was first seen. It is considered the most sacred animal on the African continent by the Sepedi and Tsonga communities.
African high priests, established under the name of isasi, have recounted abundant stories going back 400 years. At that time the white lion was already considered to be divine in nature, coming from the heavens. Even some of the larger animals such as the tiger, rhino, elephant or panther do not reach this level of admiration.
In honor of the symbol represented by the white lion, our team offers this White Lion Painting emanating an inexplicable aura. Moreover, if you feel like it, we invite you to discover the collection of lion paintings below.
7) Why Do They Disappear?
The first time white lions were discovered by Europeans, decades of hunting and capture followed. This captivity was not done entirely for entertainment, some conservationists at the time thought that white lions were weaker than “normal lions” (although we don’t like the use of “normal”), therefore they would have been endangered in the wild.
Of course, being white with a mane is not ideal for a lion, says Paul Funston, senior lion program manager for Panthera, the world organization for the conservation of wild cats.
However, this statement should be taken with a grain of salt, as there is no scientific evidence to date to prove this “inferiority”. White lions are as strong and hunt as well as their tawny brothers and sisters. It has even been suggested that their white hair helps them hunt, as their unusual color confuses their prey.
To date, no official law has been enacted to protect white lions from the effects of the hunting industry. Thus, the fight for the perpetuation of these magnificent felines continues.
The white lion has been successfully introduced in some areas of the wild. In South Africa, they roam freely in the southern part of the Kruger National Park and in the Timbavati region, their ancestral lands.
Even though the unexpected birth of three white lions in 2018 had put an end to the local extinction of these snow-coated mammals, everyone assumed that it would take a few decades to review this genetic miracle. However, the birth of a fourth lion cub arrived in November 2018 and surprised everyone. This feisty little male lion cub has recently been joined by another white lion cub who is a female born in the pride of Birmingham.
9) the Meeting of a White Lion
In March 2018 guides from the Ngala Reserve in South Africa spotted a wild white lion cub.
A field guide revealed that he was observing a male lion sleeping in the Timbavati Riverbed until the cry of a young lion cub appeared. The guide then approached to find out more and at that moment he was able to perceive a white lion cub from its mother.
It was the first wild white lion seen by the guide and his colleague Fanny Mathonsi who has been working in the field for 26 years.
As mentioned earlier, the birth of a white lion requires parents who possess a recessive mutation in a gene which will result in the production of colored pigments called melanins.
10) the Problem With White Lions
In the midst of nature, a white lion is magnificent and does well. However, when a white lion is in captivity it can cause many problems. Indeed, it is proven that when breeders select white lions, they are often inbred and end up having defects and handicaps.
A study revealed that out of 19 white lions that were raised in a zoo in Italy, four of them died at birth and 13 others did not reach the first month. In addition, six of these lions had cranial abnormalities. Of these 19 lions, only one survived for a long period of time even though he suffered from physical and neurological disabilities.
As we have seen white lions are not albino, this is often an entirely false popular belief. In addition, the white lion is a divine symbol in some cultures and has been for many years.
Because of their rarity, white lions and lionesses have suffered unsustainable stalking and predation for many years, especially through poaching. Today, an awareness has been raised and some white lions live in the wild, however the fight continues for these endangered species.