Extinct subspecies - barbarian lion


The fauna of our planet was diverse at all times. But, unfortunately, the populations of some representatives of the fauna are declining. Previously, the main factor reducing the number was climate change and habitat conditions. But lately, man has become the cause of the extinction of many species. Unfortunately, with his "help" some rare animals disappeared irretrievably. These include the Barbary Lion, which will be discussed in this article.

Extinct species

The predator lived in Africa, in the northern regions of the Sahara desert, and in the territory from Egypt to Morocco. Also the barbarian lion had other names - Atlas and Nubian. Previously, it was the largest subspecies among its feline brethren.

Carl Linnaeus in 1758 it was he who was used for the classification, external description and behavior of lions.

The number of predators sharply declined in the middle of the 17th century. Already at the beginning of the 18th century he almost disappeared from the Sahara (Africa). Only a few individuals continued to live in a small area of ​​the north-western areas of the desert.

The great popularity of firearms at that time put an end to the population. Many hunters went to these areas for a valuable trophy. There was a deliberate policy of destroying an endangered predator.


In the wild, the last member of this subspecies was shot in 1922 in Morocco, in the Atlas Mountains. From this point on, it is considered extinct.

There is a snapshot showing the last barbarian lion. The photo was taken in Algeria in 1893.

Now it is recognized as completely extinct, and only in zoos can be found individuals originating from the barbarian lion, but they cannot be called purebred.

Population recovery

Some scientists talk about the rebirth of the subspecies, but in practice it will be extremely difficult. There were suggestions that individual copies could remain in the reserves of the royal family of Morocco.

However, a team of scientists led by Dr. Barnett conducted research, and it was proved that in our time there are no purebred individuals. This is a major obstacle in the recovery of the population.

External description

It was a very large predator, standing out among the representatives of its own species. A distinctive feature of the barbarian lion was a thick mane of dark color, which fell far back and hung down on his stomach.


According to the latest research scientists, such appearance, most likely, was an adaptation to cold habitats. Although previously it was believed that such a phenotype was just a feature of the subspecies.

Individuals of the male of this predator weighed 160-250 kg, some reached 270 kg and were 3 m long. The females were much smaller - up to 2 m and from 100 to 170 kg.


Meager food changed the way of life of the barbarian lion. His representatives did not create packs or even couples, as did their other relatives. The predator preferred to live in complete solitude. The barbarian lion was also found in the forests of the Atlas Mountains.


It was a very strong animal, which, while hunting, initially pursued its prey. Before the direct attack, he quietly sneaked up to his victim. At a distance of 30 meters went on the attack. He made it a quick jump. Such prey were usually large animals such as boars, deer, buffaloes, the local subspecies of the bubal and zebras. A small animal, a barbarian lion, could kill with one paw, but more often such a technique as strangulation was used.

The main threat to the predator was only man.

Interesting Facts

It is known that in ancient Rome, this subspecies was used to participate in battles with gladiators. Also barbarian lion was released on the arena against the Turan tiger, which is also an extinct animal in our time. Their battle was a kind of entertainment event of the time.

In 1970, the monarch Hassan II of Morocco gave the Rabat a zoo a lion, which, according to the description, was more like a barbarian one. However, it was not a purebred specimen. By 1998, there were already 52 of his descendants from females of different subspecies of a lion.


Nowadays, in the Addis Ababa Zoo, there are 11 predator specimens that are descendants of those animals that were in the personal property of Emperor Haile-Selassie I. But they already less and less resemble their ancient large ancestor.

It is known that in the London Zoo in the second half of the 19th century there lived a thoroughbred barbarian lion named Sultan.

There is an assumption that in modern circuses one can meet a predator with the genes of a majestic progenitor.

In many countries there are sculptures of a lion. Built at different times, they always personified such qualities as majesty, power and authority. It is possible that the Barbary lion was used to decorate some specimens as an image. A monument to this graceful predator can be seen in Morocco, in the city of Ifrane. The stone lion is a symbol of this city.

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