Panthera leo melanochaitus Smith, 1842:177

Cape lion



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Panthera leo melanochaita Smith, 1842:177; Panthera leo melanochætus Smith, 1842:177; Panthera leo melanochaita Smith, 1858 (wrong year); Panthera leo capensis (J. B. Fischer, 1830)


Conservation Status

Last record: 1858 or later; 1865 (Goodwin & Goodwin, 1973)

Taxonomically rediscovered (Kitchener et al., 2017)





Biology & Ecology










Original scientific description:

Smith, H. (1842). Introduction to mammals. Jardine’s Naturalists’ Library. Second edition. Volume 15.


Other references:

Barnett, Ross, Yamaguchi, Nobuyuki, Barnes, Ian and Cooper, Alan. (2006). Lost populations and preserving genetic diversity in the lion Panthera leo: Implications for its ex situ conservation. Conservation Genetics 7: 507-514.

Bertens, Laura M. F. and Wilson, Ann Marie. (2022). Wonder, Empire, Science: The Quagga and Other Extinctions on Display at Naturalis. Museum & Society 20(1): 33-49.

Bertola, L. D., Miller, S. M., Williams, V. L., Naude, V. N., Coals, P., Dures, S. G., Henschel, P., Chege, M., Sogbohossou, E. A., Ndiaye, A., Kiki, M., Gaylard, A., Ikanda, D. K., Becker, M. S. and Lindsey, P. (2022). Genetic guidelines for translocations: Maintaining intraspecific diversity in the lion (Panthera leo). Evolutionary Applications 15: 22-39.

Bree, van P. J. H. (1998). On a mounted skeleton of apparently the extinct Cape Lion, Panthera leo melanochaita. Contributions to Zoology 68(1): 67-71.

Christiansen, P. (2008). On the distinctiveness of the Cape lion (Panthera leo melanochaita) and a new specimen from the Zoological Museum in Copenhagen. Mammalian Biology 73: 58-65.

Day, David. (1981). The Doomsday Book of Animals: A Natural History of Vanished Species. New York, N.Y.: The Viking Press.

de Flamingh, A. et al. (2023). Genomic analysis supports Cape Lion population connectivity prior to colonial eradication and extinction. bioRxiv preprint.

Goodwin, Harry A. and Goodwin, J. M. (1973). List of mammals which have become extinct or are possibly extinct since 1600. Int. Union Conserv. Nat. Occas. Pap. 8: 1-20.

Haas, Sarah K., Hayssen, Virginia and Krausman, Paul R. (2005). Panthera leo. Mammalian Species 762: 1-11, 3 figs.

Heck L. 1966. The Cape lions (Panthera leo melanochaita) of the museum Wiesbaden. Jahrbuchern des Nassauischen Vereins fur Naturkunde 98: 132-138.

Kitchener A. C., Breitenmoser-Würsten Ch., Eizirik E., Gentry A., Werdelin L., Wilting A., Yamaguchi N., Abramov A. V., Christiansen P., Driscoll C., Duckworth J. W., Johnson W., Luo S.-J., Meijaard E., O’Donoghue P., Sanderson J., Seymour K., Bruford M., Groves C., Hoffmann M., Nowell K., Timmons Z. & Tobe S. 2017. A revised taxonomy of the Felidae. The final report of the Cat Classification Task Force of the IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group. Cat News Special Issue 11: 80 pp.

Maas, Peter. (2010). Panthera leo melanochaitus. In: TSEW. Available online: [Accessed 6/8/2012]

de Manuel, Marc et al. (2020). The evolutionary history of extinct and living lions. PNAS 117(20): 10927-10934.

Mazak, V. (1964). Preliminary list of the specimens of Panthera leo melanochaitus Ch. H. Smith, 1842, preserved in the museums of the whole world in 1963. Zäugetierk 29: 52-58.

Mazak, V. (1975). Notes on the black-maned lion of the Cape, Panthera leo melanochaita (Ch. H. Smith, 1842) and a revised list of preserved specimens. Verh. Koninkl. Nederlandse Akad. Wetenschappen 64: 1-44.

Ouzman, S. (1998). Note on the extinct Cape lion, Panthera leo melanochaitus. South African Archaeological Bulletin 53: 56. [Bushman or ‘San’ rock-painting depicting the Cape lion]

Rossi, L., Scuzzarella, C. M. and Angelici, F. M. (2020). Extinct or Perhaps Surviving Relict Populations of Big Cats: Their Controversial Stories and Implications for Conservation, pp. 393-417. In: Angelici F., Rossi L. (eds.). Problematic Wildlife II. Cham: Springer.

Tefera, Melaku. (2003). Phenotypic and reproductive characteristics of lions (Panthera leo) at Addis Ababa Zoo. Biodiversity and Conservation 12(8): 1629-1639.

Van Bree, P. J. H. (1998). On a mounted skeleton of apparently the extinct Cape lion, Panthera leo melanochaita (Ch. H. Smith, 1842). Contrib. Zool. 68: 67-71.

Yamaguchi, Nobuyuki. (2000). The Barbary lion and the Cape lion: their phylogenetic places and conservation. African Lion Working Group News 1: 9-11.


<< Back to the Carnivora database