Lions are the top predator in any African ecosystem in which they occur, and are the largest of the African carnivores. With their large, muscular, tawny bodies and characteristic manes, they are unmistakable, and are treated with awe by prey species as well as most visitors to game reserves, whether it be their first visit or their fiftieth.
Lions, like other cats, adapt well to their particular circumstances. They select their prey from the spectrum of available animals, but, given a choice, they exhibit a preference for large ungulates.
It is believed that the social structure of lions has evolved from the necessity of co-operation in bringing down such large animals successfully. Studies have shown that the weight range of prey is between 20 to 800 kg in mass. On the upper end of the scale are giraffe and cape buffalo while the lower end includes gazelle and warthog. Lions in groups may attack and kill heavier animals such as rhinoceros and hippopotamus but it is not common. Smaller animals such as steenbok and springhares will tide lions over during hard times, especially in areas where larger game migrate and are therefore not always readily available.
It was assumed that lions and other predators were the main mechanism of population regulation on ungulates, and in the early days of game parks, lions were shot so as not to reduce ungulate populations. The idea has since been tested by generations of modern biologists and it was established that the availability of food, and the presence of parasites and disease pose a far greater threat to the survival of antelope and other ungulates than the predator.
Lions may influence the population of their prey in certain situations, however: most of these are man-made situations, such as the introduction of animals to particular areas and the creation of water holes. The bundance of prey in particular areas does affect the abundance of lion in that area. Various estimates have been put forward, but a general indication is that any game area will require well over 100 game animals to support 1 lion for a year. Lions are the top of the food pyramid, and require a wide base of prey species below them. An individual adult male can consume over 40 kilograms of meat in a sitting, but can then go for many days without eating thereafter. An adult female in the wild will consume approximately 5 kilograms of meat per day.
When water is available, and particularly when it is hot, lions drink regularly, but they don't invest much in the activity and will drink their fill in a few minutes. The quality of the water is not an issue and they will drink from muddy pools, rivers or water holes and show little indication of preference. Drinking is a social event and the pride tends to move to water en masse, usually crowding together in the manner similar to that maintained during feeding.
Best places to see the African Lion in Southern Africa:
|Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park - South Africa's biggest nature reserve is home to aproximately 2500 lions!
Pilanesberg National Park (South Africa)
Hluhluwe-Umfolozi National Park (South Africa)
Kalahari Gemsbok National Park (South Africa)
Etosha National Park (Namibia)
Chobe National Park (Botswana)
Kasunga National Park (Malawi)
Home Information Books Photo Gallery Places to see Lion
Social Habits Hunting Habits Reproduction Conservation Status
PRIVATE GAME RESERVES:
Mala Mala Game Reserve
Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve
Phinda Resources Reserve
Timbavati Private Game Reserve
Shamwari Game Reserve
Londolozi Private Game Reserve
Singita Private Game Reserve
Ngala Private Game Reserve
Makalali Private Game Reserve
Ruimte River Lodge -- Hoedspruit Area -- from the lodge you may visit the famous White Lions of the Timbavati
OTHER RESERVES/ PLACES TO SEE LION
Okavango Delta (Botswana)
Savuti Marsh (Botswana)
Mashatu Game Reserve (Botswana)
Kaokaveld in northwestern Namibia