African LionSpecies Panthera Leo
Lions are one of only two cat species that are social (the other being cheetah). All other cat species are solitary in the wild.
A group of related females with offspring is called a pride. Membership within a pride only changes with the births and deaths of lionesses; although some females may leave and males at three years old are ousted to become nomadic.
The pride is protected by a partnership of two to five males called a coalition. The coalition consists of brothers or unrelated males working together to hold and protect their territory and the pride within. Lions benefit from working as a team, making it is easier to protect each other and hold ownership over a fruitful territory.
Lions can be extremely lethargic for the majority of their lives, spending around 18-20 hours of the day resting. This is understandable and necessary to recuperate from the intense periods they spend patrolling and hunting.
Lions are expert stalkers. They can use the barest of cover to get close to prey by holding the head and the body close to the ground. With their eyes firmly fixed on the victim, they move carefully, testing the ground with their front paws, using the sensitivity of their front paw pads to make sure not a sound is made. Once the front paw has silently been placed on the ground, the rear paw (naturally baring one less digit) fits neatly in the exact same spot as the front paw as the lion moves forward. This is called ‘direct registering’ and a key element in stalking. Lions will get as close as possible to their prey before their final dash and pounce.
Did You Know?
Lions roar to advertise their territory or to locate other members of the pride. They do this mainly at night, as this is when they are most active, but also because the air is stiller and sound carries further. Lions will lower their head and call at ground level to maximise the distance their call will carry. Calls are known to be heard up to seven kilometers away.