Lions symbolize wild Africa, majestic animals that showcase power and beauty. Seeing one in the wild is one of the safari’s ultimate highlights. We collected our facts and out them together ‘5 facts about lions’.
They were the second most widely spread species after humans and can now be found only in sub-Saharan Africa and India. Once ruled over the vast area of Africa and Eurasia, this magnificent beast is now vulnerable.
Lions are often called the ‘King of the Jungle,’ yet lions live in grasslands and savannas, where some cover and plenty of water can be found.
5 FACTS ABOUT LIONS
Female lions and cubs live in a group called pride.
Lions are the most social cats and usually live in a family group of between 10 and 15 animals called a ‘pride‘. The pride often consists of up to 3 male lions and a group of 10 or 12 related female lions who’re young. The size of the pride will depend on how much food and water is available.
Females leave their pride to give birth and usually return 4 to 8 weeks later. After birth, females bring the litter back to pride and raise the cubs communally. A cub can suckle from any female with milk. It will stay with the mother for up to 2 years. During this time, cubs learn hunting skills from adults and even practice playfully stalking and pouncing.
A lion’s roar can be heard from over 8 km away.
A roar is a sign of dominance, so the louder, the better, as far as lions are concerned. Lions use these impressive roars to warn rivals and show how big and bad they are.
This is one of the great sounds you can hear on a safari, and it echoes through the night. Males have a more resounding roar than the lionesses (consider this a fun fact about lions).
A ligament in their voice box causes an incredible roar. This ligament is stretched to enable more air to pass across the vocal cords, making the intense and loud sound synonymous with lion power.
Lions hunt during storms.
They do most of their hunting at night as their eyes have adapted to the dark, giving them a massive advantage over their prey. They hunt more during storms as the noise and wind make it harder for prey to see and hear them.
When hunting, lionesses have specific roles. Some play the role of ‘center’ and others the role of ‘wing’ – the wings chase the prey towards the centers.
The magnificent manes of male lions tell a story.
Male lions grow impressive manes the older they get. These manes grow up to 16cm long and signify dominance. The older they get, the darker their manes go. As well as attracting females, their manes may protect their neck and head from injuries during fights.
Lions are the top predators in their environment and play an essential role in the food chain.
They help to control the numbers of plant-eating (herbivore) animals, such as zebra and buffalo, which in turn affects the condition of grasslands and forests. Without lions to control them, these species can also out-compete other animals, eventually causing their extinction.
Despite the fantastic 5 facts about lions, we must know one serious fact.
There are about 20,000 lions left in the wild. In 26 African countries, they are already extinct. 90% of the lions’ historical roaming grounds have disappeared. At the expansion rate in Sub-Saharan Africa, it’s estimated that in 2050, lions will be extinct in the wild.
African lion numbers are thought to have declined by over 40% in just three generations.
- The main threats are retaliatory or preemptive killing to protect people and livestock and decreasing natural prey and habitat (for example, due to expanding human settlements and less available grazing). When their natural prey is scarce, lions can cause grave losses to livestock, destroying local people’s income.
- Climate change is another increasing threat – extreme weather may cause more droughts or delay the rains, affecting lions’ prey.
- They’re also killed for the illegal wildlife trade. Recently, the demand for lion bone as a substitute for tiger bone in traditional Asian medicine has risen.
The lion is also an iconic symbol to people all around the world. Many communities in Africa rely on the money from tourism, with lions being one of the biggest attractions.
However, it is known that the ecosystem is changing, but how we do things and respect animals is also in our hands. Are you ready to check out the 5 facts about lions while on your Tanzania safari?