-Physical characteristics of lions
-Male coalitions/male behavior
WARNING- this info and some of the pictures have been taken from other
sites to insure as much data accuracy as possible. If you own one of this
sites and do not like the way this data is being used please contact me.
Most of this info is based on research obtained in the Serengeti [and I
for one don't agree with all the facts stated here, but most of it is probably
CHARACTERISTICS OF LIONS
('Panthera Leo') are the second largest members of the feline family in
the world, with only the tiger physically larger. Male lions weigh on average
416 pounds (189 kilograms) while female lions weigh 277 pounds (126 kilograms).
Lions are tan in color and have a slightly white under-body, with a tuft
of black hair at the end of their tales.
Male lions are typically 4 feet in height (1.2 meters), with a large
mane of hair that begins to develop around age two that surrounds the neck.
The mane can vary in color from tawny/tan to black.
Females are 44 inches (1.1 meters) in height, and have no mane around
their neck. Cubs are born with a slightly spotted coat, that changes to
their parents tawny coloration around three months of age. Female lions
live longer than males, and Serengeti female lions can live up to age 18,
whereas males typically live up to age 12.
Lions are the only 'social' cats, whereby related female lions live together and form groups called 'prides'. Lion prides are family groups with all of the females related, mothers and daughters, sisters and cousins, etc.
A pride can range from three to 30 individuals, but tend to average about fifteen members, which include male and female lions plus a number of cubs. The number of lions in a pride will vary significantly based on the number of prey animals that live or migrate through the pride's territory.
A pride of lions will live in a territory that they will defend from other lions. Lions identify their territory by roaring loudly or by physically scent marking trees or rock outcrops. While female lions will hunt and kill most of the animals for the pride to eat, male lions are around primarily to defend the territory from other lion prides or nomadic male lions.
While female lions will live with the pride for life, male lions will only last two to four years before they are evicted or killed by a new coalition of male lions that take over the pride.
COALITIONS / MALE BEHAVIOR
Male lions leave their pride of birth between the ages of two and four, and sets of male cubs born together will remain together throughout their lives. Male coalitions are not always blood relatives since males can team up with other independent males during their nomadic years. Nearly two-thirds of all male pairs and nearly half of all trios contain unrelated partners.
Large male coalitions can always outcompete smaller male coalitions for taking over a pride of females, and such coalitions may include as many as nine males. Within the coalition however, it is every male for himself when a female comes into estrus. The consorting male stays close to the female for four or five days and warns off his male companions. Rarely does overt fighting break out between partners.
While male lions that form larger coalitions will be more successful in acquiring territory, the chances than an individual male lion will father offspring is not shared equally. Males only achieve equal mating success in pairs.
Male lions have an unconditional affection for their coalition partners,
whether they are blood relatives or not. Males will always cooperate with
each other in defending their territory and their pride from other intruding
male lions. Even when members of a coalition are temporarily separated
from each other, they will still defend their territory from intruders,
even when they are outnumbered.
Back to the Lions and other big cats section
Back to the main screen