10 Facts About Lions in Love You May Not Know | SA Country Life
Lion snuggles look adorable, but they betray evidence of the often violent life that lions lead. Females, meanwhile, always face the possibility of having their cubs killed when a males, it would be important for females to maintain their own relationships. Readers Respond to the September Issue. A new film highlights the challenges that young males face, and Life is tough for lion cubs, but especially males: Only about 1 in 8 male lions. The world's foremost lion expert reveals the brutal, secret world of the king of beasts. It is not a new problem, this interspecies competition for an increasingly If the invaders are victorious, they kill all the young cubs to bring the pride's.
Other estimates put the number slightly higher, closer to 30, Regardless, their numbers are declining at an alarming rate, experts agree.
The Truth About Lions
About 50 years ago, there werelions — a decline of more than 95 percent, Beverly added. Trophy hunters, mostly Americans, kill nearly lions per year, typically males, Dereck said. Perhaps an even bigger problem is the use of wire snare traps by expanding rural populations in Africa, Hunter said.
These traps catch a variety of animals, which then die, attracting lions, which then fall prey to the traps themselves, he added. Viewing the animals up close shows just how easy it is to approach them, and makes it clear that lion hunting wouldn't be particularly challenging. The killing of an adult male in a pride can throw the group into chaos, Dereck said.
For example, this makes the pride more vulnerable to attack from an outside group of males, leading to upheaval and the almost certain killing of any young cubs, Dereck said.
In a typical natural population of lions, about 23 to 30 percent of the animals are males, Hunter said. But hunts geared toward males can skew that balance. In Zambia's Luangwa Valley, for example, hunting recently decreased the portion of males to 8 percent of the population, at least four times lower than it would normally be, he said. Beverly and Derek live among the iconic big cats in Botswana, often spending days out in the bush living in their specially modified Land Cruiser, which can handle deep puddles and rivers.
They spent 18 months filming "Game of Lions" — which is less than one hour in length — and another five months editing.
Becoming King: Why So Few Male Lions Survive to Adulthood
After visiting Duba Plains, the Jouberts' dedication to saving lions and capturing them on camera becomes more impressive. Most of the time, lions lie around, acting very much like big cats. In one instance they came right up next to the safari cruiser, in search of shade, within an arm's reach. The lions made one successful kill during the trip, but it was at night in a marsh, just after a terrific thunderstorm and the beginning of the rainy season, Dereck said.
In other words, the lions' true nature doesn't necessarily come out upon first glimpse, at least not to the extent that it does in the Jouberts' films. But it's more than enough to respect their massive size, power and grace.
Yet lions band together without fail to confront and sometimes kill intruders. Larger groups thus monopolize the premier savanna real estate—usually around the confluence of rivers, where prey animals come to drink—while smaller prides are pushed to the margins. He and Pusey realized this after scrutinizing groups of nursing mothers for countless hours. An alert lioness reserves her milk for her own offspring. During takeovers by outside males, solitary females lost litter after litter, while cooperating lionesses stood a better chance of protecting their cubs and fending off males, which can outweigh females by as much as 50 percent.
Surviving cubs go on to perpetuate the bloody cycle. Males reared together typically form a coalition around age 2 or 3 and set out to conquer prides of their own. Hard-living males rarely live past age 12; females can reach their late teens.
The Truth About Lions | Science | Smithsonian
As we crossed the plains one morning, the Land Rover—broken speedometer, no seat belts, cracked side mirrors, a fire extinguisher and a roll of toilet paper on the dashboard—creaked like an aged vessel in high seas. We plowed through oceans of grasses, mostly brown but also mint green, salmon pink and, in the distance, lavender; the lions we hunted were a liquid flicker, a current within a current.
The landscape on this day did not look inviting. Sections of the giant sky were shaded with rain. Zebra jaws and picked-clean impala skulls littered the ground. Packer and a research assistant, Ingela Jansson, were listening through headphones for the ping-ping-ping radio signal of collared lions. Jansson, driving, spotted a pride on the other side of a dry gully: Neither she nor Packer recognized them.
Jansson had a feeling they might be a new group. Jansson found what seemed to be a decent crossing spot, by Serengeti standards, and angled the truck down.
We roared across the bed and began churning up the other side. Packer, who is originally from Texas, let out a whoop of triumph just before we lurched to a halt and began to slide helplessly backward. We came to rest at the bottom, snarled in reeds, with only three wheels on the ground, wedged between the riverbanks as tightly as a filling in a dental cavity. Jansson stepped out of the truck, long blond ponytail whipping around, dug at the wheels with a shovel and spade, and then hacked down reeds with a panga, or straight-blade machete.
Earlier I had asked what kind of anti-lion gear the researchers carried. Packer is not afraid of lions, especially Serengeti lions, which he says have few encounters with people or livestock and have plenty of other things to eat. He says he once ditched a mired Land Rover within ten feet of a big pride and marched in the opposite direction, his 3-year-old daughter on his shoulders, singing nursery school songs all the way back to the Lion House.
Packer never tried such a stunt with son Jonathan, now 22, although Jonathan was once bitten by a baboon. Packer and Pusey divorced in ; she returned to studying chimpanzees. Not being handy with a panga, I was sent a short distance down the riverbed to gather stones to wedge under the wheels.
I could not decide whether I should creep or sprint. As I bent to claw stones out of the ground, I knew suddenly, with complete, visceral certainty, why Tanzanian villagers might rather be rid of these animals.
Jansson looked through binoculars, taking note of their whisker patterns and a discolored iris here and a missing tooth there. She determined this was the seldom-seen Turner Springs pride. Some of the sun-dazed lions had bloodstains on their milky chins. The first true lion probably padded over the earth aboutyears ago, and its descendants eventually ruled a greater range than any other wild land mammal.
They penetrated all of Africa, except for the deepest rain forests of the Congo Basin and driest parts of the Sahara, and every continent save Australia and Antarctica. In the Grotte Chauvet, the cave in France whose 32,year-old paintings are considered among the oldest art in the world, there are more than 70 renderings of lions.
Sketched in charcoal and ocher, these European cave lions—maneless and, according to fossil evidence, 25 percent bigger than African lions—prance alongside other now-extinct creatures: Some lions, drawn in the deepest part of the cave, are oddly colored and abstract, with hooves instead of paws; archaeologists believe these may be shamans.
The French government invited Packer to tour the cave in This was somebody who was viewing them in a very cool and detached way. This was somebody who was studying lions. Prehistoric human beings, with their improving hunting technologies, probably competed with lions for prey, and lion subspecies in Europe and the Americas went extinct.
Other subspecies were common in India and Africa until the s, when European colonists began killing lions on safaris and clearing the land. Ina hunter shot the last known member of the North African subspecies in Morocco. Today, the only wild lions outside Africa belong to a small group of fewer than Asiatic lions in the Gir Forest of India. Though devastatingly poor, the nation is a reasonably stable democracy with huge tracts of protected land.
But the Serengeti is the exception. The use of lion parts in folk medicines is another concern; as wild tigers disappear from Asia, scientists have noticed increasing demand for leonine substitutes.
Lion Den/Lioness and Cub Facts
The central issue, though, is the growing human population. Tanzania has three times as many residents now—some 42 million—as when Packer began working there. The country has lost more than 37 percent of its woodlands since In the s, as Tanzanians plowed large swaths of lion territory into fields, lion attacks on people and livestock rose dramatically. Kissui said five lions nearby had recently died after eating a giraffe carcass laced with tick poison.
A month earlier, lions had killed three boys, ages 4, 10 and 14, herding livestock, but that was in a village 40 miles away. As the number of people increases, we take the land that would have been available to the wildlife and use it for ourselves. Male cubs are expelled from the pride at about three years of age and become nomads until they are old enough to try to take over another pride after age five.
Many adult males remain nomads for life.
Cooperating partnerships of two to four males are more successful at maintaining tenure with a pride than individuals, and larger coalitions father more surviving offspring per male. Small coalitions typically comprise related males, whereas larger groups often include unrelated individuals. If a new cohort of males is able to take over a pride, they will seek to kill young cubs sired by their predecessors.
Females attempt to prevent this infanticide by hiding or directly defending their cubs; lionesses are generally more successful at protecting older cubs, as they would be leaving the pride sooner.
In the wild lions seldom live more than 8 to 10 years, chiefly because of attacks by humans or other lions or the effects of kicks and gorings from intended prey animals. In captivity they may live 25 years or more. Lioness Panthera leo with cubs. Lioness with cubs Panthera leo. Genetic studies suggest that the lion evolved in eastern and southern Africa, diversifying into a number of subspecies—such as the Barbary lion Panthera leo leo of North Africathe cave lion P.
Lions disappeared from North America about 10, years ago, from the Balkans about 2, years ago, and from Palestine during the Crusades. By the 21st century their numbers had dwindled to a few tens of thousands, and those outside national parks are rapidly losing their habitat to agriculture. Male lion Panthera leo in Namibia.
Infor example, a variant of canine distemper caused the death of an estimated 1, lions at the Serengeti National Park. The apparent source of the virus was domestic dogs living along the periphery of the park. Despite such challenges, lion populations are healthy in many African reserves and at Gir, and they are a major tourist draw. High population densities of lions, however, can be a problem, not only for local ranchers but also for the cheetah and African wild dog —critically endangered carnivores that lose their kills, their cubs, and their lives to lions.
The genus Panthera includes leopards, jaguars, and tigers as well as lions. In captivity, lions have been induced to mate with other big cats. The offspring of a lion and a tigress is called a liger; that of a tiger and a lioness, a tigon; that of a leopard and a lioness, a leopon.