Friday, September 29, 2006

Habitat et nouriture

To judge by historical records, one contiguous lion population may once have been distributed from North Africa through the Middle East to India, and was probably connected to the sub-Saharan population through the present Egypt–Sudan–Ethiopia region. Latest genetic research has confirmed this (Barnett et al. 2006). The lions distributed in the whole of Africa north of the Sahara were called Barbary lions lions (Panthera leo leo).

However, the eastern part of North Africa (modern Libya and Egypt) may not have supported a dense lion population even well before the time of major human persecution (Harper, 1945; Nowell and Jackson, 1996), possibly because of the aridity of the region. Probably by the early 18th century at the latest, lions had disappeared from that part of the North African Mediterranean littoral. This left an isolated population in the western part of North Africa (now called Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia). (Yamaguchi and Haddane, 2002) Unlike most African lions, the Barbary Lion was a mountain predator, preferring woodlands.

The prey for the Barbary lion were mainly Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia), wild boar, Cuvier's gazelles (Gazella cuvieri) and Barbary red deer (Cervus elaphus barbarus), but also Arab herds of cows and sheep, and even sometimes a horse. The method of hunting was never documented, but it is believed that they used the same death by strangulation method as do the other great cats of the world. (Yamaguchi and Haddane, 2002; Preservation Station, 2005)


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