Have you ever heard about the existence of the white lion? If not, then you are in for a big surprise. White lions do exist. White Lions are the lions that have a true white color. There are many facts about White lions we will discover.

The white lions are not albinos, as the white coloration is due to some color mutations, a rare gene mutation. Similar to the white peacocks as they are the result of sex-linked mutation.

White Lion

The white lion is not subspecies of lion. White lion belongs to this particular subspecies of lion, Panthera leo Kruger, known as the Southeast African Lion. So these animals are also referred to as African white lions. 

Panthera leo is the scientific name for a white lion. White lions are just as much of an apex predator as wild tawny lions in their natural habitat.

The white lion results from a genetic rarity, a recessive gene responsible for white coloration in furs. White lions are believed to be natives of the Timbavati region of South Africa. 

White lions were first reported in 1938. However, they first came to public attention in the 1970s. White lions are not pure white, so they are also referred to as blond lions.

White lions have also been hunted to extinction in the wild, but they have been reintroduced to their natural habitat by Global White Lion Protection Trust (GWLPT). The main reason why most of the white lions are settled in zoos/captivity. 

White Lions Facts

Some tribes in Southern Africa revered White Lion as sacred beings because of their majestic coloration. They can hunt and have other features, same as purebred. However, the brink of extinction is roaming around these African species.

facts about white lions
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Let us find out some interesting facts about White Lions.

1. Appearance

Normally lions have hazel or golden-brown fur, but the white lions have entirely white or an extremely pale version of the usual fur. The color of fur in White lions ranges from blonde to near-white

White lions have blue or golden color eyes, black noses, and dark-spotted color patches at the rear of the ear. 

The White male lions have yellowish blonde or white color mane and the same color at the tip of their tail. The female does not have a mane.

2. Size

Male white lion weights up to 530 pounds and female up to 400 pounds. Their average lifespan is about 18 years. The male white lion is up to 10 feet long and 4 feet high and 6 feet long, and 3.6 feet for females. 

3. Habitat of White lions

White lions are native to southern Africa. They are indigenous to the Timbavati region in southern Africa. Savannas, woodlands, and desert areas are the natural habitat of a white lion. 

Due to excessive hunting, they went extinct once but are currently protected at the Central Kruger Park in South Africa. The Global White Lion Protection Trust (GWLT) initiated a world-first re-establishment of white lions within their natural habitat in 2004. 

facts about white lions
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The first white lion cub was born in 2006 using a selective reintroduction technique. The white lion has been successfully introduced into certain areas of the wild.

4. Diet

White lions are carnivorous. They prey on zebra, buffalo, gazelles, tortoises, reptiles, small birds, and hoofed mammals. The presence of sharp teeth and claws makes them great hunters.

5. Skilled hunters

Lions typically kill their prey by strangulation, and the pack consumes the carcass at the site of the kill. The pack patiently stalk the prey and attack at the right moment. The study suggests that white lions are equally apex predators as tawny lions.

6. White lions are not albinos

Albinism is a disorder characterized by an absence of pigmentation in the skin, eyes, and hair. The white lion varies in color from blonde to near-white and even red. 

A white lion possesses a genetic condition known as leucistic. Because of the leucism, pigmentation is lost in fur but is present in the eyes.

White lions have normal-colored eyes, lips, and paw pads, unlike albinos. Some of them also have blue eyes. The white color is the result of the recessive gene. 

This proves that white lions are not albinos. Some scientists also claim that this condition is in the lions living in the Timbavati area.

7. Reproduction

A white lion reaches sexual maturity between ages three and four. As of now, most of the white lions are in captivity, so they are bred there. 

A lioness usually gives birth to 2-4 cubs. They mate once every two years in the wild, but they are made to mate once a year in captivity. Lion’s cubs are born blind and dependent on the mother for the first two years.

facts about white lions
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A cub is born white only if both of its parents carry the recessive ‘white’ gene. So these lions may have a coat color that ranges from pale blond to almost pure white.

8. Whitecoat does not offer camouflage

It is also said that white lions are not fit for wildlife due to their white coat, which does not provide camouflage in the wild. Poachers and hunters easily spot them in the wild.

However, this does not turn out to be true as it lacks any scientific basis. Nevertheless, the white coat color could be a disadvantage, as far as hunting is concerned. 

9. Family-oriented

Unlike, Siberian Tigers White male lions live with their family consisting of few lionesses and cubs. As they are extinct in the wild, the Kruger National Park has artificially created the environment for these lions.

They have an instinct to protect their family and cubs from danger. Furthermore, inform them to hunt in a pack if they see prey around. Being the “King” of the jungle, caring nature is one of the amazing facts about White lions.

As they are kept in their original habitat in the Timbavati region, successful breeding is crucial in saving these critically endangered species.

10. Communication

White lions communicate with the vocalization pattern. They a groundbreaking roar to warn potential threats or keep away predators from their family.

White lions are soft and caring, and they use chuffing sounds while interacting with the member of the pack or with their offspring. The way they communicate and alert their pack is also one of the amazing facts about White lions.

11. Speed

As they belong to the same family of South African lions, the speed of these lions would be similar. The speed of South African lions is up to 50 mph, so does the White lions. 

The exact data was impossible to retrieve as they were kept in captivity for conservation reasons; they were extinct in the late 1990s. 

12. Cultural Importance

White lions have significant cultural importance to the local Sepedi and Tsonga of the Greater Timbavati/Kruger park region. White lions are considered sacred in these communities. 

White lions are symbols of leadership, pride, and royalty and are viewed as national assets in countries like Kenya and Botswana. These facts about White lions show their cultural value and importance.

13. White lions are leucistic

Leucistic is a genetic condition that causes white lions to have less melanin or other pigments than other non-leucistic animals. Melanin is a group of dark pigments found in skin, hair, fur, and eyes. 

facts about white lions
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A very rare gene known as the recessive gene is responsible for leucism that causes the lion to lack dark pigmentation in some areas but retains pigmentation in the eyes, paws, and nose. Leucistic animals are different from albinos.

14. Health issues

White lions result from two parents having the recessive gene, and this cannot be considered the healthy bred than the pure ones. There will be some problems related to health that can be identified late, or in some cases, can be seen at birth.

To conserve these species, the inbreeding process is still in progress. Most researchers explain that it is good for preserving this majestic and beautiful creature.

At the same time, they want to be aware of some consequences. White lions are already carrying the recessive gene from their parents, and the inbreeding with another White lion will give two copies of the rare deleterious mutations.

15. Population of the White lion

A white lion is not separate subspecies; rather, it belongs to one of the subspecies known as the African White Lion. The coat color of a white lion is due to some rare mutation. 

Because of this reason, the number of white lions is very less. Most of them are kept in captivity or zoo, and few are in the Timbavati region, their ancestral homeland.

There are around 100 white lions kept in captivity and 13 in the wild. The reason behind keeping them in captivity is to promote inbreeding, and they are not quite safe in the wild. 

Global White Lion Protection Trust is an organization that is responsible for reintroducing these lions to their native habitat and is protecting white lions from extinction.

16. It is an Endangered Species

Since their discovery in 1938, white lions have been hunted and forcefully removed from their natural habitat. Few adult white lions remain in the natural wild habitat as their existence is highly at stake. 

Global White Lion Protection Trust (GWLT) initiated a world-first re-establishment of white lions within their natural habitat in 2004. Since then, many white lion cubs have been born in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve and the Nwanetsi Area of Kruger National Park. 

This proves that the recessive gene is still present in the wild population and the white lion is a natural occurrence. The biggest threat to white lions is the uncontrolled trading and hunting of lions.

White lions rose back from the brink of extinction. They are not albinos and are as dangerous and furious as other lions. These facts about White lions explain their status in the wild, and the measures of protection taken by the authorities are commendable.

(Last Updated On: October 27, 2021)