White Lion - full description

White Lion -

White Lion - full description

of reading - words

The white lion, is a carnivorous mammal of the cat family. It is not a subspecies of the African lion but a genetic mutation due to a particular allele. It lives mainly in reserves in South Africa 🦁. The white lion lives in the African savannah. The white feline eats cattle (antelopes, wildebeest, elands, oryx), buffaloes, zebras, giraffes, elephants, hippos...

Panthera Leo Krugeri.

This lion is a form of genetic mutation of the Transvaal lion (Panthera leo krugeri) and is not a distinct species or subspecies. The white lion can occasionally be seen in the wild in South African nature reserves such as the Timbavati Reserve adjacent to the Kruger National Park. This animal is also selectively bred in zoos around the world.

White lion.

White lion.

Physical characteristics of the white lion.

Females : 59 to 75 inches | Males : up to 98 inches
39 to 52 inches
Females : 170 to 350 lbs | Males : 330 to 500 lbs
Top speed 37 miles/h
Length of canines
2,5 inches
Body Characteristics
Massive body, imposing head, retractable claws, rounded ears, powerful jaw, long mane in males.

Classification of the White Lion.

Placental Mammal
Carnivore Felix
Panther Feline
Panthera Leo
Latin name
Panthera Leo Krugeri


This magnificent animal is only exceptionally found in some reserves in South Africa. According to African beliefs, the White Lion is divine and crossing its path brings good luck.

Social structure of the White Lion.

Social life : The white lion is a gregarious animal and lives in clans of several individuals. It is territorial and becomes aggressive towards intruders.

Hunting technique : White lions hunt their prey mainly at night or at dawn or dusk when temperatures are cooler. The hunting technique of white lions is similar to that of African lions. The female lions hunt in groups and encircle the herd and isolate their prey (which is often the most vulnerable), which is then killed by biting the neck or choking at the throat.

Alimentation : The feline eats an average of 7 kg of meat per day, but it can eat up to 40 kg at one time if the hunt was good. It can then go without eating for several days. Hunting is not a risk-free activity for white lions. Blows from buffalo horns, zebra or giraffe paws can be fatal in some cases.

Territory : Up to 300 km2 depending on the abundance of prey.

Predators : The adult white lion has no predators because it is at the top of the food chain. On the other hand, white lion cubs are vulnerable to hyenas in particular. It is also possible for the white lion to be attacked by crocodiles around water points.

White lion cub with little girl.

White lion cub with little girl.

About White Lion reproduction.

Sexual maturity : 3 to 4 years old.

Reproduction period : Mating season is all year round.

Gestation : 4 months old.

White Lion's longevity.

Life expectancy : Life span is 14 to 20 years in the wild, and up to 30 years in captivity.

Conservation status IUCN : Vulnerable (VU)

History of the White Lion.

More elusive than the African leopard, rarer than the legendary Himalayan snow leopard, and as white as the Alaskan polar bear, rumours of the existence of white lions have existed in African oral tradition for centuries. While reports of white lions appeared in the 1930s, it wasn't until 1975 that actual sightings confirmed the existence of this mysterious feline.

Although reported for centuries, the first "official" sightings of White Lions date back to the 1940s. But it was not until the 1970s that their existence was finally revealed to the general public in the book "The White Lions of Timbavati". The author tells the story of two lion cubs, Temba and Tombi, who were observed and collected in the private Timbavati Reserve, adjacent to the Kruger National Park (South Africa). Following the death of their mother, these two young lions were entrusted to the Pretoria National Zoo and founded one of the first lineages of White Lions raised in captivity 🌿. Other lineages are derived from individuals from the Kruger National Park region.

Male and female white lions.

Male and female white lions.

Is White Lion distinct species or an albino ?

The White Lion is a "variety" of the subspecies Panthera leo krugeri, the Kruger lion. It is therefore not a separate species or subspecies. White lions also do not have albinism, which is a defect in the pigmentation of the skin, hair and eyes resulting from the absence of melanin. White Lions have black paw pads, nostrils and lips, and their eyes can be hazelnut, blue-grey or green. 

Although some voices are currently being raised to classify the white lion as a distinct subspecies, it is now considered a mutant variety of the Transvaal lion (Panthera leo krugeri). It is therefore not a species or subspecies in its own right.

The genetic marker that makes lions white has not yet been identified by science. Unlike the black panther, which is melanic, the white lion is the result of a genetic variant that can be transmitted between parents carrying the same gene. One could rather speak of a form of leukism, a genetic defect also found in the white tiger, which is also not considered as a separate subspecies but a mutant form of Bengal tiger.

White lions also do not have albinism, which is a pigmentation defect of the skin, hair and eyes resulting from the absence of melanin. White lions have black paw pads, nostrils and lips, and their eyes can be hazelnut, blue-grey or green. Namely that albinism is a hereditary absence of partial or total pigmentation. There are also white albino lions that have red eyes 👀.

White Lions and captivity.

White lions have never been common in the wild, and currently the largest population is kept in zoos around the world, where they are bred for biological and biodiversity conservation. Nevertheless, inbreeding problems soon arose. During the years 2003 to 2008 in a zoological garden in northern Italy, 19 white lions were born to the same parents, who were in turn paternally inbred. Of the 19 lions, 4 were stillborn, thirteen died within a month of birth, and one was killed after six months. As with the white tiger, Species Survival Plan (SSP) coordinators strongly discourage the crossbreeding of lions for the sole purpose of creating white lions.

White lioness.

White lioness.

Today, the most unfortunate thing to say is that some unscrupulous zoos give the white lion status, as was the case for the white tiger, in order to attract visitors. On the other hand, given the rarity of the white lion, it is totally insane that circuses can strut around presenting these felines as attractions 🦁. Today, five famous circuses have white lions in their possession. Since the animal already has no place in a circus, what can we say about the presence of these magnificent felines in the tents to entertain the galleries.

Protection of the White Lion.

As the white lion has no status today, there is no targeted protection to protect it in the wild. This magnificent animal attracts the lust of trophy hunters, who are prepared to pay up to $130,000 for what is known as a "box hunt" in which the lion is put in a cage and hunters simply point and shoot, without taking the slightest risk. In 2002, a South African scientist, Linda Tucker, founded the Global White Lion Protection Trust to save white lions. Together with Jason Turner, a researcher at the University of Pretoria, she is implementing a programme to reintroduce zoo-born white lions to Timbavati.

Global White Lion Protection Trust is a South African non-profit NGO based in the greater Timbavati area responsible for the protection of the white lion and the development of the associated cultural values that consider them sacred. The main objective of this foundation is to reintroduce white lions into their natural range.

How do white lions look like ?

The White Lion is the result of a genetic mutation called leukism 🧬. The gene responsible for this appearance inhibits the deposition of the black pigment melanin, except at the tips of the hairs. The colour of the coat then varies from blond to almost pure white, the mane of the males being blond or cream in colour instead of black. This mutation is carried by a so-called recessive gene, so both parents must be carriers of this gene for at least one of the offspring to be white.

White lion cub.

White lion cub.

Historical story of the White Lion.

According to native knowledge, the arrival of the white lions on the Timbavati reserve and at one point in time is no coincidence. Indigenous peoples around the world believe that everything in nature happens for a reason. We live in a universe filled with meaning, and the arrival of the white lions in a place exactly aligned geographically with the primary sacred sites along the Nile meridian is part of a divine plan.

The Timbavati region in northeastern South Africa 🌍happens to be exactly aligned with the Nile meridian where the emblematic Sphinx of ancient Egypt is erected. The Sphinx represents the fusion of man and lions, and both are creatures that preside over the food chain and are therefore responsible for regulating the natural order of life.

Used for the search for spiritual signs in nature, African ancestors see the arrival of the white lions in the desert as the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy identifying these majestic creatures as angelic messengers of God. In spiritual terms their white coloration represents purity and enlightenment, beyond all racial connotations. White is sunlight and contains all the colors of the spectrum.

African ancestors believe that white lions are the most sacred animals on the African continent and are there to deliver a sacred message to humanity in this time of crisis. As a predator, the lion is considered the true guardian of the land, while the white lion, in particular, is considered the king of kings, an angelic guardian presiding over this sacred site and playing an extremely important role in the sensitive ecology of the region (and the world). For many centuries, African kings identified the land of Timbavati as a protected area. Its name "Tsimba-Vaati" is derived from the ancient Shangaan language and means "the place where the lion stars came down from the heavens".

White lion and lion cub.

White lion and lion cub.

7 facts you need to remember about white lions.

1) Unlike leukism, some felines (leopards, jaguars, servals, tigers) are prone to melanism: an excessive proportion of melanin in the skin makes their appearance totally black.

2) The Kruger's Lion, also known as the Lion of the Transvaal, holds the world weight record with a male of 312 kg, unfortunately shot in 1964.

3) The white lion has a form of leukism that gives it its white color. Unlike leukism, some felines (leopards, jaguars, servals, tigers) are prone to melanism, an excessive proportion of melanin in the skin giving them their totally black appearance.

4) The African Lion holds the world weight record with a male of 687 lbs, a specimen unfortunately listed once shot in 1964

5) White lions are not albino, but a genetic rarity unique to an endemic region on the globe: the Timbavati region. The genetic marker that makes their color particular to white lions has not yet been identified by science.

6) White lions are currently classified as belonging to the Transvaal lion (Panthera leo krugeri) subspecies, although this status is likely to change after genetic research conducted by the Global White Lion Protection Trust reveals important reasons for a subspecies of this rare phenotype.

7) In 2004, after twelve years of technical extinction of white lions in their ancestral homeland, the Global White Lion Protection Trust began its reintroduction program. Today, the organization has successfully reintroduced three groups of white lions into their natural endemic habitat. Despite continued trophy hunting for lion trade trophies in this Timbavati region ☘️, a number of white lion occurrences have since been documented over a wide area, demonstrating the conservation value of this rare phenotype of biodiversity in this wilderness.

Axelle - Lion Republic writer.

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