The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Interesting facts about Lions

Afrikaans name: Leeu

Interesting facts about lions


Photo © Steven Herbert

Panthera leo

Interesting facts about Lions

Lions live in groups called prides and are the only big cats to do this. If there was such a thing as an average pride it would have 1 or 2 males, 5 or 6 females and their cubs. Prides numbering up to 30 individuals have been recorded.

Males need around 7 kg of meat a day while females get by with 5 kg.

They do most of their hunting at night.

A Lions roar can be heard up to 8 km away.

A Lion can reach a speed of up to 80 km/h but can only maintain it for a short distance.

Male Lions spend a lot of time marking and defending their territories.

Males with darker manes are more attractive to females.

A few male Lions do not develop manes while occasionally a female will be seen with signs of a mane.

Females give birth to up to 4 cubs at a time. The female leaves the pride temporarily when it is time to give birth. She will find a secluded spot to have her cubs. During the first 6 weeks of the cubs’ lives, before they are introduced to the pride, she will be the sole provider for them.

Male Lions weigh around 180 kg while females weight about 130 kg.

Tigers are the only cats bigger than Lions.

Lions spend up to 20 hours a day sleeping and resting.

The role of hunting is mainly left to the females in the pride. The males may participate, or even do solo hunts, but normally spend their time marking and defending their territory. Females normally target far smaller prey than males. They take prey with a maximum weight of less than 130 kg while males will hunt prey weighing 400 kg.

Lions are the only member of the cat family where it is easy to distinguish male and female adults.

Lions can reach an age of 12 in the wild. They sometimes reach an age of 20 or more in captivity. Males often succumb to injuries accumulated over the years defending their territories.

White Lions are encountered from time to time, particularly in Kruger National Park. They are not a separate species but rather a colour variation. Unfortunately these unusually coloured animals are prized by hunters so some breeders breed them to be used in hunts on private game farms.

More information on lions...

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