The lion is the only permanently social, or group-living cat: all other cats are solitary. Similarly to elephants' society, the lioness and her offspring are the focus of the lion society: female lions in a pride are usually related. Female cubs born to pride lionesses usually remain bonded for life to the group, whereas males invariably do not figure as permanent members. If a pride becomes too large, one or more males, with one or more female groups will break away to form their own pride.
Lions use urine spraying or marking the soil with their paws to mark their territory. Territories vary in size according to how large the pride is and the concentration of game. Both male and female lions have a dominance hierarchy. Females outnumber males, usually by 2 to 1. Several different lions, both male and female may be a leader of a pride.
Male cubs are ousted at puberty (about 18 months) and they have to find their own kills. The two adult males that usually accompany a pride, occupy their positions by right of conquest: in some cases they may be brothers or cousins, but often they are unrelated. Their reign is generally short-lived however, and they are ousted by younger, stronger males during noisy battles of succession.
Although these battles are often fierce, serious injuries are rare, and the ousted males often become nomads, wandering over large distances. By rolling over on his back, a male lion can avoid aggression from a stronger opponent. Although is uncommon for males to fight to the death, occasionally, defending males are fatally wounded or suffer disabling injuries, leading inevitably to a lingering death. Lionesses fight each other as often as the males do!
Sub-adult lions leaving their natal prides usually adopt a nomadic existence. There are, however, several restraints on their movements: they tend to follow game, and they avoid settled prides who often attack nomads. Nomadic groups may consist of lions of both sexes, they may be members of the same litter, or different litters from the same pride. Sometimes nomads meet up with other lions and form a pride; most nomadic lions are now confined in protected areas: if they venture out of these areas they are often killed. It is only in remote areas such as the woodlands of Central Africa, the Kalahari Desert and the Kaokoveld where nomadic lions have enough space to roam.
Prides consisting of females only have been observed in certain places, with these prides sharing a few males that moved between them. Birth synchronization by the females, which effectively limits mating chances for the males, may have played a role in these particular pride structures. Prey species were also plentiful in these areas, which means that it would be easier for these males to make their own kills. Another possible reason is that these areas had even lower male-female sex ratios than normal. (In normal lion populations, mortality is higher among male cubs than females, as male cubs are more adventurous and may stray or get lost.) A possible reason for the scarcity of adult males in certain regions may be that they adjoin either safari-hunting areas where male lions are highly sought after as trophies, or cattle-ranching and settled areas where nomadic or wandering male lions are shot on sight. Most areas, however, do have the traditional pride structure of females with a couple of males.
Lions are active at night, early morning and towards sunset, although they do sometimes hunt during the day. They are generally fairly lethargic: they exert themselves for short periods of time and then spend long periods of slow movement or relaxation. Despite their apparent obliviousness to their surroundings during resting periods, they can become aggressive quickly if suddenly or unduly disturbed.
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.
During rainy weather they hide in thickets, with their backs towards the rain. It is not uncommon for lions to swim, although they do not do so readily. Swimming is however an everyday event for lions in the Okavango Delta of Bostwana.
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