African lions (Panthera leo) live in most of sub-Saharan Africa except in desert and rainforest habitats. Lions were once exterminated from South Africa, where they remain in Kruger and Kalahari Gemsbok National Parks and possibly some other protected areas. Lions once ranged throughout southwest Asia and north Africa. Asiatic lions (P. l. persica) belong to the single remaining subspecies in this region. Once roaming from Greece to central India, Asiatic lions persist in the Gir forest of northwest India.
In addition to the asiatic subspecies, many taxonomists contend that there are five extant African subspecies. Each subspecies is identified by geographic region. Panthera leo senegalensis (west African or Senegalese lions), P. l. azandica (north east Congo lions), P. l. bleyenberghi (Katanga, Angolan, or south Congo lions), and P. l. krugeri (south African or Transvaal lions). Panthera leo krugeri includes Kalahari lions (sometimes denoted as P. l. verneyi). Lastly, there are East African lions (P. l. nubica). These animals have been categorized as Somali lions (P. l. somaliensis), Masai lions (P. l. massaicus), Serengeti lions (P. l. massaicus), Congo lions (P. l. hollisteri), and Abyssinian lions (P. l. roosevelti). It should be noted, however, that there is some debate as to the validity of the African subspecies classifications, leaving only the Asiatic subspecies, P. l. persica, uncontested.
Biogeographic Regions: palearctic (Native ); oriental (Native ); ethiopian (Native )