LOOKING FOR LIONS

Lions are panthers, so are leopards, jaguars and tigers. None of them can purr but they can roar! They are sometimes called the roaring cats for this reason.

Panther(s) or the pantherines have voice boxes that allow them to roar – no true cat can roar, like the cheetah, domestic cats, wild cats and pumas can’t roar but all of them can purr.

Panthera leo – lionPanthera pardus – leopardPanthera onca – jaguarPanthera tigris – tiger

You could, if you were a “lion watcher” look for the these lions in Africa.

Panthera leo hollisteri – Congo lionPanthera leo massaica – Masai lionPanthera leo verneyi – Kalahari lionPanthera leo krugeri – South African lion or Southeast African lionPanthera leo azandica – North East Congo lionPanthera leo bleyenberghi – Katanga lion or Southwest African lionPanthera leo senegalensis – West African lion, or Senegal lion

You can’t look for these lions anymore – they’re extinct!

Panthera leo spelaea – Eurasian cave lionPanthera leo atrox – American lion or North American cave lionPanthera leo europaea – European lionPanthera leo fossilis – Early Middle Pleistocene European cave lionPanthera leo leo – Barbary lion, extinct in the wildPanthera leo melanochaita – Cape lionPanthera leo sinhaleyus – Sri Lanka lion or Ceylon lion.Panthera leo vereshchagini – East Siberian and Beringian cave lion

Lion sightings!

Are travel companies selling a product or a service?

Lion sightings cannot be packaged or consumed until they happen, or can they? Many of my deepest frustrations as a field guide operating in Big5 areas in Southern Africa come from the senseless, unsustainable marketing attempts from some lodges, reserves and safari operators to package wildlife, and wildlife encounters into a tangible product.


The accent is invariably on the animal, guest comfort and bells and whistles that equal the lodge and its activities. The package is wrapped up in a FIT tour, and the consumer is sold a ‘dream holiday’ that includes just about every lion sighting ever interpreted.

The point is that a ‘lion sighting’ cannot be packaged, and every lion sighting is only made tangible by your experience of it and by the knowledge of your guide at the point that the lion sighting happens.

One person’s lion sighting remains intangible to others – it cannot be repeated for others, and it cannot be recreated to sell to others. A lion sighting is not simply about seeing lions. A lion sighting is a culmination of the combined experiences you have on the safari – the sighting relies heavily on your guide’s ethic, knowledge and ability to interpret that moment.


Being part of the behaviour of lions, the history, the ecology and conservation of the lion and intrinsically, being part of the beauty and privilege of seeing a lion in the wild is the beginning of a service a good guide will deliver at your lion sighting.

There are other aspects of this service in delivering a real lion sighting. The standard of information you are given with your lion sighting, the care and safety surrounding your experience, the humility, passion and sense of respect your guide reflects will all conclude a full service – forever tangible in your memory of your lion sighting.

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