How Lions Earn Their Title
It’s a Christmas Lion Story
It’s the 17th of December and time to take a break from those never-ending holiday preparations.
Here at Wildmoz bush camp, the nights are punctuated by the roaring of lions. At daybreak, the big cats are still at it as they seek out a cozy spot to sleep-off the night’s success story.
We thought it might be fun for you to find out just how much you may know about The King of The Beasts? So here a picture story for you.
- African lions are social animals. Of all big cat species, lions are the only ones to form prides. These family groups can consist of as many as 40 individuals although usually, there will be up to three males and twelve females with cubs of varying ages.
- Lions will greet by rubbing heads against each other. This sharing of scents reveals their intentions, moods and recent activities and strengthens the bonds between the two.
- Lion cubs are spotted when born and lose the marks gradually as they grow up.
- Females in a pride will share responsibilities for raising the young. Lactating mothers will even suckle each other’s cubs.
- If any African predator has earned the sobriquet “lazy,” it must surely be the lion. These big cats have been known to sleep away 20 hours in a day.
- Defending the pride’s territory – around 250 sq. km – is the male lions territorial imperative. The females job is to do most of the hunting, but despite this, the males eat first, even when there are cubs in the pride.
- A male lion’s roar, can be heard as far as eight kilometers away. Females are quieter, sometimes joining in the roar for back-up or calling cubs – this is usually in a more modulated volume.
- Like all meat eating animals – hyena, leopard, cheetah- lions will eat tsamma melons in times of need, when water is short.
- The only non-African lions occur in India, which are larger than the African lion in general. This Asiatic Lion was once prolific in Ancient Persia, Mesopotamia, Israel and Turkey but now is classified as endangered. An estimate 650 Asiatic lions populate just one National Park in India where they have protected status.
- Fossil remains from the last ice age prove that lions once roamed Europe and North America. Even a mummified lion cub has recently been discovered in the Russian permafrost.
- Lions are the only big cats with manes.
- With superior night vision, lions often hunt at night when it is cooler and their prey can’t see them, as well as they can see their prey.
- In parts of Africa, lions have been known to hunt elephants successfully, although it is said only males will carry out the kill.
- Once upon a time, many African tribes had the tradition, that to obtain manhood, young men destined for leadership, must kill a lion singlehandedly.
- The lion is a living icon. Royal standards, family crests and national flags would not be so impressive without the majestic lion.
- For centuries, Chinese architecture has used the lion as a symbol of strength and protection. Are the ubiquitous stone lions guarding the entryways into Chinese buildings thanks to the famous thirteenth century, trader/explorer Zheng He?
- African lions are listed as a vulnerable species (link) and are under grave threat on the whole continent. It has been estimated that only 25,000 lions remain in the wild. Like all African animals, lions are endangered by human-wildlife conflict, habitat loss, diminishing prey and diseases from domesticated animals.