African Lions

Male African Lion

African lion facts …

Male African Lion
The King by Kevin Pluck cc2.0

Big and Lazy

Lions are the secondlargest and the laziest of big cats in the world. They sleep and rest for a better part of the day, almost 20 hours, and usually hunt in the dark. They are also known to chase their own tails like pet dogs.

The Mane

The male has a mane, a feature which is unique to them. The mane protects the lions’ neck during fights and is also a great tool for intimidating the opponent since it makes the lion appear larger. The mane is the mate-attracting feature in lions; the denser and darker their mane the more attractive the lion.

Lions’ Pride and Roar

Lion's pride
pride at waterhole Serengeti by amanderson2 cc2.0

The lions’ “pride” usually has about 20-30 members; a few adult males, females and the cubs. The lions keep track of their pack members with their powerful roar. Their roar is louder than any other big cats’ and can be heard from as far away as 8 kilometers!

Male and Female Roles

The lions and lionesses have specialized roles within the pride; the lioness the hunter and the lion the protector. While the lionesses are out hunting the lions protect the cubs and their territory. The roar, fight and ward off intruders from their land. They urinate around their territory marking it as theirs.


Four Lionesses take down a bull cape buffalo in the central Serengeti. Photo by Caelio cc3.0

The hunters of the pride, the lionesses, hunt in groups. They stalk, surround and then attack. They single out their target and then sprint and leap on it bringing it to the ground. They will either strangle and kill the victim or enclose its mouth and nostrils with their jaws. A simple swipe of their paws is enough to kill small prey e.g. rodents. If their kill is small the hunters eat it on-site (where it was killed), but larger prey is dragged back to share with the pride. The adult males eat first, then the lionesses and finally the cubs. The males very rarely share a meal they have hunted themselves.

Vulnerable Lion Cubs

The males of the pride are often fought and replaced with others. These conquerors are often lions from outside the pride. The lion cubs do not open their eyes until they are about a week old and need their mother’s protection until they are mature enough to live by themselves. The new lions that conquer the pride will often kill the existing cubs so that they can sire their own. The lioness, though agile and skilled in hunting, is not as strong as the male lion and therefore would need the aid of 3 or 4 lionesses to fight and protects her cub from the new males. The young cubs are prone to get attacked by other predators like hyenas and leopards or even get trampled by buffaloes. Only about 20% of the cubs survive, the rest usually die before they have reached the age of two.

African lions are featured in the following books:
25 Top Predators in the World
25 Most Deadly Animals in the World
101 Facts… BIG CATS!

The YouTube video below is a collection of African lion videos. The list of videos featured is underneath.

The Playlist:

  1. King lions establish new pride – BBC wildlife
  2. King lion under attack – BBC wildlife
  3. Hunting Lesson – Wildlife Specials: Lions – Spy in the Den – BBC
  4. Into the lion’s den! – extreme animals – BBC wildlife
  5. Three Men vs. Fifteen Hungry Lions – Human Planet, Grasslands, Preview – BBC One
  6. Lioness Hunts Zebra – [easyazon-link asin=”B001W79MQS” locale=”us”]Nature’s Great Events[/easyazon-link]: The Great Migration – BBC One
  7. Lions vs antelope – BBC wildlife
  8. Lions vs buffalo – BBC wildlife
  9. Lion Out of Africa? Why are all the lions disappearing? by BBC wildlife
  10. Lion vs hippo – Wildlife on One – BBC
  11. Battle of jaws – lions vs crocodiles – BBC wildlife


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