Asiatic Lion vs Royal Bengal Tiger


Both Asiatic lions and Royal Bengal tigers belong to the Felidae wild cat family, which is under the suborder Feliformia and belongs to the order Carnivora, which is a predominantly carnivorous group of mammals. There are 40 species of wild cats in the world, out of which 7 species belong to the “big cats category” and all belong to the Pantherinae subfamily.   The seven species of big cats consist of the genera Panthera and Neofelis. Most of the modern cats of today arose due to migrations that occurred during the two major ice ages of the past ten million years. During these ice ages, the sea level dropped and land bridges formed between continents. This allowed animals to move to new areas and environments. When the ice sheets melted and sea levels rose again, the land bridges were covered, and the migratory animals became isolated from their original populations. Over time, the new populations got used to their new environment and became genetically different enough that they became a new species. The seven species of big cats are:


Common nameScientific name
Genus: Panthera
TigerPanthera tigris
LeopardPanthera pardus
LionPanthera leo
Snow Leopard Panthera uncia
JaguarPanthera onca
Genus: Neofelis
Mainland Clouded LeopardNeofelis nebulosa
Sunda Clouded LeopardNeofelis diardi


Except for the Jaguar and the Sunda Clouded Leopard, India is home to five of the seven big cats. It is one of the top destinations to spot big cats in their natural habitat. 



The lion is one of the largest, strongest, and most powerful felines in the world. It has a mane, a muscular, broad-chested body, a short, rounded head, round ears, and a hairy tuft at the end of its tail.


asiatic lion in India


Subspecies of Lions

  • The Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica)
  • African lion (Panthera leo leo)


But the most recent Felidae taxonomy update in 2017 showed that the Asian subpopulation is closely related to northern African lions, while southern and eastern African lions are different subspecies. Thus, the two subspecies of lions at present are:


  • Panthera leo leo – Central and West Africa and India
  • Panthera leo melanochaita – Southern and Eastern Africa


Asiatic Lions (Panthera leo persica)

The lion has a muscular body and very strong front paws. Its fur coloration ranges from tawny and gray to yellowish-red and dark brown. The color of its nose gets darker with age in both sexes, and the manes become more prominent and darker with time. The Asian lion has a longer tail tassel and a smaller, shorter mane than the African lion. Due to the less prominent mane on top of the head of Asian lions, their ears are always visible. Male lions in Asia have a bigger hair tuft at the elbow than their African cousins. The Asiatic lion’s unique belly skin, which is rarely seen on African lions, is the most noticeable thing about it.

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asiatic lion at gir national park india


General facts about Asiatic Lions
  • Length: Males can grow up to 10 Feet
  • Weight: Males – Upto 200 Kg & Females:
  • Life span: 18 – 20 Years
The behavior of Asiatic Lions

Asiatic lions are mainly nocturnal and crepuscular. They spend the majority of the day resting. Similar to African lions, the Asiatic ones live in a complex social system, but the pride structure differs and even varies locally based on resource availability. The pride size of Asiatic lions (measured by the number of adult females) tends to be smaller than that of African lion populations. In the Gir forest, most of the pride consists of only two females. Most of the time, male Asiatic lions in the Gir forest only hang out with the females of their pride when it’s time to mate. Female Asiatic lions who are breeding defend territories based on resources, while male coalitions try to cover as many female groups as possible. The lower degree of sociality in Asian lions of the Gir forest compared to African lions may be due to a lack of prey and livestock.

The territory of Asiatic Lions

Lions are very vocal, and their roaring is audible over several kilometers. Both male and female lions have the same scent mark. In the Gir forest, the home ranges of male lions vary from 11 to 174 sq km, and the home ranges of females are between 26 and 43 sq km. Intensively used core areas are much smaller and centered around

Hunting and prey of Asiatic Lions

The Asiatic lion preys mainly on ungulates, such as small deer and antelopes. The sambar deer (Rusa unicolor), the chital (Axis axis), the chosingha (Tetracerus quadricornis), the chinkara (Gazella bennetii), the wild boar (Sus scrofa) and the nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus) make up their diet. Asiatic lions also prey on porcupines (Hystrix indica), common langurs (Semnopithecus entellus), Rufus-tailed hares (Lepus nigricollis ruficaudata) and peafowl (Pavo cristatus) and take livestock. Nilgai and wild pigs are common wild prey species found outside of the Gir forest protected area. In a study of what Asiatic lions killed in the Gir forest, 56% of the animals killed were domestic animals.

National Parks in which Asiatic Lions are found

Asiatic lions can only be found in Gujarat’s Gir National Park.



The tiger is the largest living cat and a member of the Panthera genus. Dark vertical stripes distinguish the orange fur with a white underside. The tiger has adapted to a wide range of environments, from the Siberian taiga, where nights can get as cold as 40 °C (40 °F), to the Sundarbans mangrove swamps, where temperatures can get above 40 °C (104 °F). Tigers live in places like dry grasslands and rainforests, and they are said to haunt the ruins of courts and temples. Most animals live in grasslands, mixed-grassland forests, and deciduous forests instead of densely canopied forests because these places have the most prey species. Because it evolved in eastern Asia’s temperate and subtropical forests, the tiger is less heat-tolerant than other large cats, which may explain why it is an adept swimmer who appears to enjoy bathing. It may climb trees when stressed.


royal bengal tiger in india


Subspecies of Tigers

Earlier, there were around nine subspecies of tigers on the last IUCN Red List from 2014. of which three were already extinct.


Critically Endangered (CR)

  • South China Tiger Panthera tigris amoyensis
  • Malayan Tiger – Panthera tigris jacksoni
  • Sumatran Tiger Panthera tigris sumatrae


Endangered (EN)

  • Amur / Siberian Tiger Panthera tigris altaica
  • Indochinese Tiger Panthera tigris corbetti
  • Bengal Tiger Panthera tigris tigris


Extinct (EX)

  • Bali Tiger Panthera tigris balica
  • Javan Tiger Panthera tigris sondaica
  • Caspian Tiger Panthera tigris virgata


However, the last Felidae taxonomy revision in 2017 suggested that there are only two subspecies of tigers.

  • Panthera tigris tigris: larger size, paler coat with fewer stripes.
  • Panthera tigris sondaica – smaller size, darker coat with more stripes

Royal Bengal tigers, Panthera tigris tigris

Indian and Bengal tigers are other names for Royal Bengal tigers. Tigers make up a sizable proportion of the world’s tiger population. The Bengal tiger is India’s national animal and can be found in India, China, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Burma. There are no two Bengal tigers alike! Each Bengal tiger has a distinct stripe pattern. Every tiger on the planet has a distinctive pattern that distinguishes it from other tigers and makes it easy to count them during the tiger census. Depending on the season, their color ranges from yellow to light orange, with stripes ranging from dark brown to black.

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royal bengal tiger in ranthambore


General facts about Royal Bengal Tiger
  • Length: Males can grow up to 10 Feet or more
  • Weight: Males – Upto 300 Kg & Female: Upto 250 Kg
  • Life span: 18 -25 Years
The behavior of the Royal Bengal Tiger

Tigers, especially males, are solitary animals that set up and take care of their own territories. The size and shape of these territories depend on the number and location of prey, the number and location of other tigers in the area, the terrain, the availability of water, and the individual. Spacing between individuals and keeping their territories clear is done by making noise, scraping the ground, marking trees with their claws, leaving feces, putting out scent by rubbing their facial glands, and spraying urine mixed with scent from their anal glands. The solitary nature of the species also helps minimize territorial conflict. Nonetheless, confrontations do occur, sometimes resulting in injury or even death.

The territory of the Royal Bengal Tiger

Tiger territory is thus a place where they can meet all of their needs. Tigresses also use the habitat to give birth to and grow cubs. Those that do live together know the other tigers’ activities, much like in a family unit. The area that is considered to be the group’s home has a size that depends not just on the number of male and female tigers but also on the abundance of prey. A tigress, for example, will need a territory of 20 square kilometers (7.7 square miles). A male tiger requires a larger territory, such as one that covers 60 to 100 square kilometers (23 to 39 square miles).

Hunting and Prey of Royal Bengal Tiger

The tiger is an obligate terrestrial carnivore. It ambushes its prey but also actively searches for prey species. It frequently drags its prey to nearby cover to feed on. It hides the parts that have not yet been consumed and generally return to feed on them. The tiger’s main food source is large herbivores like the chital (Axis axis), gaur (Bos gaurus), sambar (Cervus unicolor), wild pig (Sus scrofa), and muntjac (Muntiacus Muntiacus). The tiger also preys on red deer, roe deer, peafowl, and musk deer. Most of the time, they eat mostly wild pigs and different kinds of deer.

National Parks found in which Royal Bengal Tigers are found

India was the first country to start Project Tiger, and its ongoing conservation efforts have helped bring the number of Royal Bengal tigers back up to almost 3000. The top 5  national parks to spot tigers in India are:

  • Jim Corbett National Park
  • Bandhavgrah National park
  • Kanha National Park
  • Ranthambhore National Park

Read more about White Tigers in India.

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