Black Lion Photo

Black Lion Photo

Black Lion Photo

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

Ref: Wild Cats Of The World – ISBN-13:978-0-266-77999-7

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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6 Responses

  1. Leah says:

    Very good manipulation if you look at the paws you can see the texture of the fur which makes the colour look quite real. Love deviant art I know an artist who uses it.

  2. kylee says:

    When i first looked at this i thought it was a real black lion. But realised was fake. Very beautiful though.

  3. Black is a natural barrier to sickness. We are seeing melanistic cats all over South America. It is natures way of defending species against extinction. I wonder if there could ever be black lions again. I’m sure there were in the past. They would of been beautiful.

    • It seems that there are less of them now because the reports are very old and there are no new reports. I reckon there are none left.

      • Marc says:

        Michael you are right about manipulation. It can be done to unbelievable extents – you could never tell.

        I’m often asked to ‘create’ things in photos for the purpose of then using the photo in a bigger layout. Sometimes I have to add more sky so we can have the text on the picture where the sky is but we need the extra room of the photo doesn’t quite cover the whole page at just over 100%. Usually you shouldn’t go past 110%.

        Anyhow – this person did a pretty decent job – go reflection on the fur. But the head aint so good. The body is brilliant.

        • Do you remember the days before digital photography when people complained that digital images were fake and could not be trusted? Now we are used to seeing exaggerated images. For example the modern landscape photograph in colour is full of digital manipulation, high contrast, high saturation and looking distinctly unreal. I think eventually people will become tired of these sorts of images. There is a beauty in the simple, straightforward photograph that captures something special. Ultimately these photographs are far more powerful than a highly manipulated ones are.

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