Popularly known as the “King of the Jungle”, lions are at the top of their food chains. They may look cute, harmless, and just like your domesticated pet cat, but these hundred-pound killing machines are not to be trifled with otherwise you could end up in the hospital or, worse, a body bag. Lions hunt in groups called prides, an effective strategy that has allowed these animals to take down prey twice their size. These include wildebeests, giraffes, and elephants. Although no introductions are needed for this majestic creature, there are still a lot of facts average people don’t know about them. Below are ten facts you probably didn’t know about lions.
Lioness live within the area their preceding generations controlled for life. Meanwhile, lions roam around long distances to search for other prides they can mingle and breed with. Many people, especially aspiring zoologists and animal lovers, know this fact. However, what they remain unaware of are the implications. Male lions can fend for themselves. In fact, they spend a large fraction of their lives alone hence requiring them to learn how to become an efficient hunter.
A few studies only support the first fact above. Nonetheless, this is an interesting discovery that could branch out more proclivities. For starters, studies have associated male hunting behavioural patterns with vegetation structure. In such cases, this was an indirect form of males caring for their young ones. Less vegetation implies less protection for the pride’s cubs. This is why African lions are forced to scout for denser vegetative lands. With denser vegetation, males have a much larger hunting ground, allowing cubs to eat more and grow stronger.
Another tragic but infamous fact about African lions is that a change in pride leader results in the killing of existing offspring the lioness has. What remains covert is that a male lion taking over a pride of females may force other members to run off. In fact, this is how many lionesses stray from the territory she was conceived in. Although this is not necessarily a death penalty, it does drastically lower her chances of survival as lions who are not in a pride are not as strong and efficient in hunting food.
Male lions frequently form partnerships with other male lions outside the pride. While people think that the pride often consists of more females than males, the reality is surprisingly reversed. Basically, there will be a group of females connected to a group of two to four males. The bigger the male population in a pride, the higher their reproductive health is.
Most people refer to a group of lions as a pride. However, what they don’t know is that scientists and field researchers actually distinguish lion groups based on the gender of the pride. A pride is actually a group of female lions who are related and live together. A group of male lions, on the other hand, is known as a coalition. Knowing this key piece of information can help you catch up and relate to lion conversations.
Having such dominance and ferocity within their territories, you’d think no one would dare go toe-to-toe with a pride of lions. Using their sharp and powerful claws and a nasty bite that strangles their prey, lions can take down even the largest of elephants and even the most stubborn of buffaloes. Ironically though, their worst foe comes in the size of a dog – porcupines. Armed with their quills, a porcupine wards off lions who prefer not to get those protruding stings stuck to their face.
A lion’s tail has meaning beyond its appearance. It is usually wagged to signal other lions and convey messages, such as warnings of impending danger. So the next time you see a lion at the zoo or in the wild, you’ll know those tail wags are not meaningless. Talking about the tail of the lion, there’s an African proverb that says ”Never hold a lion by the tail, whether dead or alive” the lion is a very dangerous animal and not something to play, toil or mess around with
Reinforced with sharp and retractable claws, a lion’s paw is one of his most important hunting arsenal. Retracting claws allow these giant cats to lock onto their prey while also preventing unwanted injuries during playtime.
A lion’s rear set of teeth, also known as carnassials, cut like scissors, which are extremely useful when feasting on a prey with thick hides like a buffalo or elephant. While their set of teeth helps trim down pieces of flesh, lions don’t really chew their kill. Instead, they swallow it with one side of their mouth.
Lions and lionesses greet each other in a rather rough manner. To the ordinary eyes, it may seem like the animals are fighting, but on the contrary, it is a way of saying “hi”. The gesture signifies a bond that is unique to the pride as lions leave scent marks on their pride members. Even domesticated cats show this trait by rubbing against their human companions, which actually signifies ownership.