The wildlife of Africa is perhaps one of its greatest marvels, sparking imaginations around the globe and igniting the fires of adventure travel in many a holidaygoer. Our 2016 African expedition will take you to see many of these great creatures, perhaps most notably the ‘Big Five’ – including lions.
But how much do you know about these wild cats? Prepare yourself prior to your next African tour by reading through this article and learning about the ways of lion life.
The cycle of lion life
We all know lions from popular films and other stories, but did you know that these beasts are the only wild cats that live in groups? Prides, as they are known, usually consist of around two to three males, according to National Geographic, with up to a dozen females and their young. The hierarchy of this group starts with the strongest male, then works its way down to the youngest cubs, who remain in this position until they grow up. At this point they will either remain with the pride (females), or venture off to takeover their own somewhere else (males).
Encyclopaedia Britannica states that cubs begin life totally blind, with spots on their fur. After three months of this early development, they will finally start following their mother, and are weaned at around six months. However, the little cats won’t generally participate in hunting until 11 or so months, and they won’t reach sexual maturity until 3-4 years (at which point the males are cast away).
Who does what in lion society?
Lions are highly territorial creatures, and will attack other prides if they come too close. This guard duty is attended to by the males, who will urinate around their border as a warning, and roar aggressively at approaching intruders. We’re not talking about small patches of land, either, but sometimes up to 400 square kilometres, depending on the availability of food.
Speaking of which, it’s the females who do the bulk of the hunting. As lions are slower than a lot of their prey – rodents, impala and even buffalo – they prefer to stalk them in packs, launching a charge when it becomes opportune. Their hunting success rate, reports Lion Alert, is fairly low during the day, but far higher at night.
African explorers with Aurora Expeditions will likely come across lions at the Kapama Game Reserve, so keep your eyes peeled and your camera ready.