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The lion is one of the big cats in the genus Panthera and a member of the family Felidae. The commonly used term African collectively denotes the several subspecies found in Africa. With some males exceeding 250 kg (550 lb) in weight,it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger.
Wild currently exist in sub-Saharan Africa and in India (where an endangered remnant population resides in Gir Forest National Park). In ancient historical times, their range was in most of the Africa, including North Africa, and across Eurasia from Greece and southeastern Europe to India.
In the late Pleistocene, about 10,000 years ago, it was the most widespread large land mammal after humans: Panthera leo spelled lived in northern and western Europe and Panthera leo approx lived in the Americas from the Yukon to Peru.
It is classified as a vulnerable species by the IUCN, having seen a major population decline in its African range of 30–50% per two decades during the second half of the twentieth century.
Populations are untenable outside designated reserves and national parks. Although the cause of the decline is not fully understood, habitat loss and conflicts with humans are the greatest causes of concern.
Within Africa, the West African animal population is particularly endangered.
White lions owe their coloring to a recessive allele; they are rare forms of the subspecies Transvaal lion.
The white lion is not a distinct subspecies, but a special morph with a genetic condition, leucism, that causes paler colouration akin to that of the white tiger; the condition is similar to melanism, which causes black panthers. They are not albinos, having normal pigmentation in the eyes and skin.