Visible Male/Female Differences
Females have no manes, males are larger
Occurs in a wide range of habitats except rain forest and true desert. Can
penetrate into arid areas along drainage lines, and can go for long periods without
drinking. Takes domestic animals and are incompatible with stock farming and human settlement.
Medium-sized and large prey: impala, wildebeest,
zebra and gemsbok,
and will also take larger species such
as buffalo, giraffe, hippo and young
elephants. Also eats a very wide range of animals
from birds, reptiles, fish, and even insects, also smaller mammals right down to the size of
mice. They kill other carnivores but rarely eat them, some cases of cannibalism have been recorded.
Occasionally they become man-eaters especially in the Kruger National Park/Mozambique
border area. Scavenges frequently.
Litters of up to 6 cubs (usually 1-4) weighing 1,5 kg (1% of adult body
weight) are born at any time of year after a gestation of 110 days. Cubs
are concealed from the pride but are introduced to pride at 6-8
weeks - or later if there are older
cubs in the pride. Weaning starts at 10 weeks, and is completed by 6 months. Females stay
in the pride, males leave by age of 3 years. They are competent hunters at two years,
full-grown at 3-4 years, and their weight peaks at 7 years. Average lifespan is 13 years. Cubs,
weak, old or disabled lions may be killed by spotted
hyenas. Lions mate about 4 times an hour over 2-3 days (!). Pride males do not compete for mating
the female will mate with all of a pride's males in turn as each loses interest in her. Pride
females suckle one another's cubs, with no bias towards their own.
Behavior and Habits
Lions have a lazy lifestyle
and are typically active for only 2-4 hours in every 24.
They are most active at night and rest during the day
in shade. Lions are the only social Southern African feline species. A
consists of a group of 2-12
(typically, 3-6) closely related adult females with their young, as well as 1-6
adult males. If there is more than one male they are often close relatives,
Only pride males can mate with pride females. Males will take over prides by
ousting current males in savage and sometimes fatal fights. The victors
themselves will be displaced by
new challengers after 1-10 years. New males will expel any young males from the pride and try to kill all the
cubs. This will bring the females back into heat and the males can then have
their own offspring. Large male coalitions result in lees chance of takovers and reduces the number of
cubs killed. After a hostile takeover females come into heat and
but do not conceive. Conception will only occur once new males have established their status against possible
challengers. Lionesses fight together to defend their cubs from being killed by
new males. Prides defend their territory, males defending against males and females against females.
Territories can be from 40 to 450 square kilometres or larger depending on
use the classical feline hunting technique of a stalk low to the ground, a charge and
a short chase chase after which the prey is pounced on and suffocated by by closing
off the windpipe or by having its muzzle covered by the lion's mouth. Lions hunting in groups.
When hunting small prey, each lion chases its own animal but more dangerous prey
requires cooperation which includes stalking, partly encircling of the prey,
distraction and setting up of
an ambush or one lion driving the pry to the pride.
Most of the hunting is done by the females (probably because it is more comfortable for the males), but unattached males have to hunt for themselves.
In a pride the
males take what food they want from the females. Cubs get what the adults leave
behind. When food is in short supply the major cause of death in cubs is
startvation. A pride in Kruger National Park specializes in killing porcupines.
Only when outnumbered 4 to 1 by spotted hyenas
will lionesses surrender their kills. Lions will steal other predators' kills. Adult males
retain their kills and reduce losses of kills to spotted
The powerful sound of the African night is the lions roar: beginning with a series of grunts, building
in volume and length, and then trailing off again. Lions also grunt, cough and snarl. A
series of explosive coughs is given as a threat to intruding humans. Small cubs
have a catlike 'meow'.
Droppings are 4 cm thick with tapered ends, usually containing hair and
bone fragments. Very dark faeces point to a diet of meat with little bone,
light-coloured faeces indicate more bone in the diet.