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Bespoke Sustainable Eco-African Safari's

About Lions

Unlike other cats, lions are very social animals and live in groups, called prides.  Prides are family units that may comprise anywhere from two to 40 lions—including up to to three or four males, a dozen or so females, and their young. All of a pride’s lionesses are related, and female cubs typically stay with the group as they age.  Both males and females scent mark to define their territory.

Young males eventually leave and establish their own prides by taking over a group headed by another male. Males defend the pride’s territory, marking the area with urine, roaring menacingly to warn intruders, and chasing off animals that encroach on their turf.

The head of the family is the pride male. He’s the king of the pride and it’s his job to protect the female lions, called lionesses and their young cubs. Sometimes there can be three or four kings who share this responsibility.

Female lions are the pride’s primary hunters and leaders.  Hunting as a group means there is a better chance that the lions have food when they need it, and it is less likely that they will get injured while hunting. The lionesses work together to hunt and help rear the cubs.  Young lions do not help to hunt until they are about a year old. Lions will hunt alone if the opportunity presents itself, and they also steal kills from hyenas, leopards, cheetahs or wild dogs.

lion coalition is simply a group of two or more (and occasionally up to seven) male lions who have “teamed up.

The lion has the loudest roar of all the big cats. It’s so loud it can reach 114 decibels and can be heard from as far away as five miles.  Most animals have triangular vocal cords but a lions are square and flat, which allows them to respond more easily to air passing through.   Their roar is for more than just showing off. Both male and female lions roar to communicate their location, show their strength, and intimidate lions from other prides.   A lion can roar at the age of 2.

The roar of a male lion is often a territorial call, something that is used to advertise status and whereabouts of a dominant male, should there be a rival wishing to challenge him. It may also be used as a means of communication between two members of a coalition of as to where each other are.

The tail serves a key purpose for the big cat. The lion is the only member of the cat family with a tufted tail, which is used to communicate to other members of the pride. Messages vary from directional commands, flirtatious signals to “follow-me” signal for the cubs.

Both male and female lions have a tuft of dark hair at the end of their tails. Inside this hair is the so-called claw—a tough patch of skin at the tip of the tail. No one knows what function this serves, if any, but no other cat has it.

A lion’s tongue is as rough as sandpaper. It is covered in tiny spines, called papillae, which face backwards and are used to scrape meat from bones and dirt from fur. These spines make the tongue so rough that if a lion licked the back of your hand only a few times, you would be left without any skin!

An adult lion’s coat is yellow-gold, and juveniles have some light spots that disappear with age. Only male lions typically boast manes, the impressive fringe of long hair that encircles their heads.

In lions, contagious yawning might be important for maintaining social cohesion. Yawns help lions harmonize their group movements and could help get the pride all on the same page, crucial behaviour for an animal that hunts and rears offspring cooperatively.

Did You Know? Lions once existed in Europe. To see lions in great numbers you would need to travel to eastern or southern Africa. Historical records show that lions once roamed across Egypt and northern Africa and were also once found in Europe across most of Greece, Bulgaria, and their neighbouring countries. From Africa, across the Middle East, and into Asia, lions once existed in the wild in many other countries including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. Today, the only country outside of Africa that has wild lions is India, with a very small population surviving in and around the Gir National Park.

Lions fear no other animals; however, lions do have enemies. The lion’s worst enemy is the hyena. Hyenas eat the same food as lions, so the lions and the hyenas often come into conflict over food. The only other enemy the lions have is people.

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