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Africa’s wonderful Big 5 – The Lion

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A lion and his mane.

The King of the Beasts – the lion is the second biggest cat after the tiger. They are one of Africa’s magnificent Big 5, and intimidating, ferocious big cats. Lions are famously known for roaming the plains of Africa in their prides.


They are golden in colour and big in size. The males are called lions and have thick manes to protect their necks during battles. The darker a lions mane, the older the lion. They can be up to twice the size of their female counterparts. Lionesses are the females and are the hunters of the pride, leaving the defending up to the males.


Habitat
Lioness saying hello.


They live in either the savannahs, grasslands, dense bush areas or woodlands in Africa. 

Being very social cats, they live in prides of up to 30 lions. A pride usually has 3 males and a dozen females that are related, together with their offspring.

Behaviour

Being the social big cats they are, they enjoy showing affectionate with touching, head rubbing, licking and playing with one another. However when it comes to food, the claws come out!

They are the laziest of all big cats, spending 16 to 20 hours a day sleeping and lounging around. The rest of the hours of the day are dedicated towards hunting, mating and protecting the territory.

However not all King of the plains, live in prides. Young males leave the pride and spend a few years living as bachelors before they become strong enough to take over a pride of their very own.

Group of lionesses from a pride.

Diet

Females are the prime hunters and will hunt together. They split into groups, one group does the chasing and the other ambushes the target. The females do 90% of the hunting for the food but the males eat first.

Lions feast on large animals such as wildebeest, buffaloes, zebras, rhinos, bucks, hippos, giraffes and even young elephants. They also enjoy munching on smaller animals such as mice, lizards, tortoises and warthogs.


Reproduction

A lion and lioness mate for just 60 seconds or less, but it happens every 15 – 20 minutes for up to five days!
It’s 2 cubs!


A lioness gives birth to a litter of one to five cubs after a pregnancy of about 110 every two years. Lionesses baby sit one another’s cubs, and if cubs are neglected a lioness will adopt them.

If a new males joins the pride, he kills all the cubs. Nature can be so cruel and this is one of those moments.

Did you know?

A lion’s eyesight is 5 times better than people, and they are 6 times as sensitive to light, than us humans. 

A ferocious lion roar can be heard up to 8 kilometres away (5 miles) and they roar to communicate with one another. A lion’s roar is the loudest roar of all big cats.  

Lions have the ability to survive for 4 days without water.

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