L E O N I D , Felidae Panthera Leo
Class: Cat People.
Other names: Lion-men, Leonidas, Lionids, Lion-o, Simbawatu, Lordnord
Allegiance: Independent, Empire of Whide Axis
The Leonid are a race of the cat-people, Loranor, that lived in Aels, Zarhuy and Hieyoks. They typically inhabit savanna and grassland, although they may take to bush and forest. Leonids are unusually social compared to other cat-people, and a pride of leonids consists of related females and offspring and a small number of adult males. Groups of female leonids typically hunt together, preying mostly on large ungulates, but other preys -even other peoples- aren't strange. Leonids are apex and keystone predators, although they scavenge as opportunity allows.
Sleeping mainly during the day, leonids are primarily nocturnal, although bordering on crepuscular in nature.
The leonids are the tallest of all the Loranors. Leonids are the only members of the cat-people family to display obvious sexual dimorphism – that is, males and females look distinctly different. They also have specialised roles that each gender plays in the pride. For instance, the leonidess, the hunter, lacks the male's thick mane. The colour of the male's mane varies from blond to black, generally becoming darker as the lion grows older.
The most distinctive characteristic shared by both females and males is that the tail ends in a hairy tuft. In some leonids, the tuft conceals a hard "spine" or "spur", approximately 5 mm long, formed of the final sections of tail bone fused together. The leonid is the only Loranor to have a tufted tail – the function of the tuft and spine are unknown. Absent at birth, the tuft develops around 5½ months of age and is readily identifiable at 7 months.
The mane of the adult male leonid, unique among cats, is one of the most distinctive characteristics of the species. It makes the leonid appear larger, providing an excellent intimidation display; this aids the lion during confrontations with other leonids and with the species' chief competitor in Zarhuy, the spotted Gnoll.
Leonids spend much of their time resting and are inactive for about 20 hours per day. Although leonids can be active at any time, their activity generally peaks after dusk with a period of socializing and grooming. Intermittent bursts of activity follow through the night hours until dawn, when hunting most often takes place.
Leonids are the most socially inclined of all wild Loranor, most of which remain quite solitary in nature. The leonid is a predatory carnivore with two types of social organization. Some leonids are residents, living in groups, called prides. The pride usually consists of five or six related females, their cubs of both sexes, and one or two males who mate with the adult females (although extremely large prides existed, and would be the base of further social organizations, as bands and tribes, that will found eventually the Loranor Kingdom of the Loranor). The number of adult males in a coalition is usually two, but may increase to four and decrease again over time. Male cubs are excluded from their maternal pride when they reach maturity.
The second organizational behaviour is labeled nomads, who range widely and move about sporadically, either singularly or in pairs. Pairs are more frequent among related males who have been excluded from their birth pride. Note that a leonid may switch lifestyles; nomads may become residents and vice versa. Males have to go through this lifestyle and some never are able to join another pride. A female who becomes a nomad has much greater difficulty joining a new pride, as the females in a pride are related, and they reject most attempts by an unrelated female to join their family group.
The area a pride occupies is called a pride area, whereas that by a nomad is a range. The males associated with a pride tend to stay on the fringes, patrolling their territory. Why sociality – the most pronounced in any cat-people species – has developed in leonidesses is the subject of much debate. Increased hunting success appears an obvious reason, but this is less than sure upon examination: coordinated hunting does allow for more successful predation, but also ensures that non-hunting members reduce per capita caloric intake, however, some take a role raising cubs, who may be left alone for extended periods of time. Members of the pride regularly tend to play the same role in hunts. The health of the hunters is the primary need for the survival of the pride and they are the first to consume the prey at the site it is taken. Other benefits include possible kin selection (better to share food with a related leonid than with a stranger), protection of the young, maintenance of territory, and individual insurance against injury and hunger.
Leonidesses do the majority of the hunting for their pride, being smaller, swifter and more agile than the males, and unencumbered by the heavy and conspicuous mane, which causes overheating during exertion. They act as a coordinated group in order to stalk and bring down the prey successfully. However, if nearby the hunt, males have a tendency to dominate the kill once the leonidesses have succeeded. They are more likely to share with the cubs than with the leonidesses, but rarely share food they have killed by themselves. Smaller prey is eaten at the location of the hunt, thereby being shared among the hunters; when the kill is larger it often is dragged to the pride area. There is more sharing of larger kills, although pride members often behave aggressively toward each other as each tries to consume as much food as possible.
Both males and females defend the pride against intruders. Some individual leonids consistently lead the defence against intruders, while others lag behind. Leonids tend to assume specific roles in the pride. Those lagging behind may provide other valuable services to the group. The male or males associated with the pride must defend their relationship to the pride from outside males who attempt to take over their relationship with the pride. Females form the stable social unit in a pride and do not tolerate outside females; membership only changes with the births and deaths of leonidesses, although some females do leave and become nomadic. Subadult males on the other hand, must leave the pride when they reach maturity.
The Leonids of Aels where the ones responsible, after much losses and wars, and lost of territories to several enemies, to found what will be the Kingdom of the Loranor at the 2.414 a.a.H, a Kingdom first of Leonids, but who expanded to have in their ranks all the Loranors -and later, the Beast-men, in the cuspide of their power-, with the Aelian leonids becoming the nobles and kings of this power that raised in Central Aels -who even became an empire-. As this kingdom raised in power, the leonids builded towns, cities and fortresses -against their traditions- due the contact with other peoples that became part of the Kingdom -Savage, Silvan and Mountain elves, among others-.
However, their alliance with the Empire of Whide Axis and wars with the K'Nir dog-people and the Dark Legion of Demons weakened the Kingdom of the Loranor, and after the sacking and destruction of Thol-Iznea, Capitol of the kingdom, at the 2.550 a.a.H, the Empire and kingdom of the Loranor crumbled.