This is a photograph of a black lion. Before I saw it I had never seen a black lion before. Initially, I wondered whether the photographer had employed photo editing. I did not know for sure whether this lion was genuinely black.
It looks as though the lion is genuinely black but there again photomanipulation these days is often carried out very skilfully and it can be impossible on occasions to tell fact from fiction.
A bit of research on the Internet indicates that the picture is a photo manipulated picture of a white lion. What a shame!
This prompted me to ask whether there are any records in the reference books of black lions. I struggled to find a reference in the best book on wild cat species¹ and then noticed a short sentence:
“Melanism and albinism seem to be uncommon in lions”
That sentence indicates that there are records and examples of black and white lions in the wild. Albino lions have on occasion been recorded in Kruger National Park and apparently 3 white lions were born in 1975 in a nature reserve in the Transvaal.
What records are there of sightings of black lions? If you want to find information about the rare and strange in respect of cats you could do a lot worse than reading Sarah Hartwell’s website: Messybeast.
Apparently in the mid-19th century there was a report of a Persian lion that was very dark brown and in parts almost black. There are no longer lions in Iran. The last one died (shot?) in 1941.
Sarah Hartwell reports that there was a partly black lion born in the zoo in Glasgow, Scotland. The black colour was possibly due to abnormal skin cells.
A black lioness was reported in the African bush (Okovango), apparently. Sarah also states that there have been reports of complete prides of dark brown or black lions indicating that it may be a familial trait.
The conclusion is, therefore, that there is such a thing as a black lion but they are exceedingly rare and I wonder whether any exist today. Secondly, the photograph on this page is a very good example of photo editing! Well done to the person who did it who apparently goes by the name of “PAulie-SVK”. He or she may be a user of a website called deviantart.com.
Ref: Wild Cats Of The World – ISBN-13:978-0-266-77999-7
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