Lions, like tigers, have rapidly lost ground in the last decades. Although there still are more lions than tigers, the loss in some regions has been such that 'rewilding' of captive animals has become a realistic option while there still is a chance.
This thread is dedicated to wild lions. Rules and intentions similar as those specified in the first (tiger) thread. Anyone able to retrieve photographs (old and new) and reliable information (old and new) is invited to make a contribution.
As many posters have shown they are able to get to recent information and excellent photographs, I, like in the tiger thread, decided to concentrate on different material.
ThE LARGEST WILD LION EVER (according to Mazak)
In his excellent book on wildlife in South-Africa, Lt.-Col. Stevenson-Hamilton, who had been Warden of the Kruger National park for a long time (first decades of the last century), stated an average male, in his experience " ... taped a little under 9 feet ..., while females averaged about a foot less ... " (page 149). Big males averaged less than 400 pounds empty.
He stated the extinct lions of the Cape and North-Africa could have attained a much greater size, but had his doubt about a lion of 10 feet measured 'between pegs':
" ... I must say that today, without ruling out the possibility, I should regard any African lion which fairly measured between uprights from point of nose to end of tail anything over ten feet as something so remarkable as to demand more than a mere newspaper photograph ... " (page 149).
And Stevenson-Hamilton knew about lions:
" ... I base my opinion of the general size of South-African lions not only on the (150) animals I have personally killed and measured, but on the two thousand or so which have been killed by the staff in the precincts of the Reserve since 1903, of which any exceptional one was always noted, and I have had some confirmation from reliable sportsmen of experience in other parts of the continent regarding lions elewhere ... " (page 150).
So much for ten feet lions, then?
Mazak, in his third, 1983, edition, thought Stevenson-Hamilton was right regarding the general size of South-African lions. But he also stated he knew of an animal that could have measured 305-310 cm. in a straight line. This animal had been shot and measured during an expedition by Dr. Berger himself. The lion measured 326 cm. 'over curves', which, 'between pegs' would yield the size stated by Mazak. Dr. Berger didn't provide information on the weight.
In his book (which was published in 1910), Berger printed a photograph of the lion. Mazak didn't use the photograph, but I found Dr. Bergers book in a second-hand book store and bought it. The photograph isn't very clear regarding the size of the lion, but it is the only photograph of a lion measured by a zoologist that taped over 10 feet in length 'between pegs'. Picture taken well before 1910.
The lion was shot on the border of what was then called English East Africa (Kenia), quite close to Lake Victoria and, in the north, Sudan and Ethiopia. This region was very close to German East Africa (now called Uganda, I believe).
Dr. Berger didn't bring the skull and the hide to Germany, because he was out for other animals. But lions were interesting to him and some time later he shot another adult male lion.
The picture of this animal, which wasn't weighed or measured, is remarkable. It shows a smallish antilope ('Schirrbock'), which, seconds earlier had been shot and wounded by Dr. Berger. The antilope fled into the reeds, only to be apprehended by a big male lion. Dr. Berger, who only had one bullit left, decided to shoot the lion at a distance of six yards. The lion was killed, holding the living antilope in his paws. He died as well.