Lion Den/Lioness and Cub Facts
READ: 7 Tough questions about the hunting of Cecil, the big lion of Hwange of the complex nature of the relationship between lions and humans. WATCH: Kruger lioness with her tiny cub is the epitome of motherly love. Lions are often thought of as ferocious predators, but here are some interesting girl was abducted in by men attempting to force her into marriage. Lion Babies Aren't Only Called Cubs: Baby lions may be referred to as cubs, . Dr. Karen Becker cannot answer specific questions about your pet's. Group livingA typical pride of lions consists of about six related females, their When a new male coalition first takes over a pride, the cubs represent a major.
When a subordinate lion comes upon a dominant lion, she lowers her head, lifts her tail, and rubs her head against the other animal. All members of a pride must bear the family scent in order to steer clear of trouble. Lions have also been described as heroiceven in protecting humans.
For instance, a year-old Ethiopian girl was abducted in by men attempting to force her into marriage. Plenty, and Paw Nation has compiled nine fascinating examples. A Complex Social Structure: Lions live in large groups called prides, similar to wolves but not most other cat species. A pride consists of multiple related females and their dependent offspring along with two or three unrelated males.
A typical pride has about 15 members, although some prides as large as 40 members have been observed. Second Largest Big Cat: A male lion weighs about pounds and grows to eight feet in length. It sounds impressive, but tigers are actually larger, reaching pounds and 11 feet long.
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Also unusual in the animal kingdom, female lions do the hunting usually in groups while male lions stay home and watch over the pride.
The males, however, are first to eat when the female lions come home with their kill. Its eyes were yellow and cold like new doubloons. This was one of The Killers. Packer, 59, is tall, skinny and sharply angular, like a Serengeti thorn tree. It is furnished with a faux leopard-skin couch and supplied only sporadically with electricity the researchers turn it off during the day to save energy and fresh water elephants dug up the pipelines years ago.
Packer has been running the Serengeti Lion Project for 31 of its 43 years.
It is the most extensive carnivore study ever conducted. He has collected lion blood, milk, feces and semen. He has learned to lob a defrosted ox heart full of medicine toward a hungry lion for a study of intestinal parasites. Over the decades there have been plagues, births, invasions, feuds and dynasties. When the lions went to war, as they are inclined to do, he was their Homer.Why Male Lions Need Lionesses to Help Them Survive
But because lions are the only social felines, Packer thought manes were more likely a message or a status symbol. He asked a Dutch toy company to craft four plush, life-size lions with light and dark manes of different lengths.
He attracted lions to the dolls using calls of scavenging hyenas. When they encountered the dummies, female lions almost invariably attempted to seduce the dark-maned ones, while males avoided them, preferring to attack the blonds, particularly those with shorter manes.
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Consulting their field data, Packer and his colleagues noticed that many males with short manes had suffered from injury or sickness. By contrast, dark-maned males tended to be older than the others, have higher testosterone levels, heal well after wounding and sire more surviving cubs—all of which made them more desirable mates and formidable foes.
Newspapers across the globe picked up the finding. In Tanzania, home to as many as half of all the wild lions on earth, the population is in free fall, having dropped by half since the mids, to fewer than 10, The reason for the decline of the king of beasts can be summed up in one word: As more Tanzanians take up farming and ranching, they push farther into lion country.
Now and then a lion kills a person or livestock; villagers—who once shot only nuisance lions—have started using poisons to wipe out whole prides. It is not a new problem, this interspecies competition for an increasingly scarce resource, but neither is it a simple one. Among other things, Packer and his students are studying how Tanzanians can change their animal husbandry and farming practices to ward off ravenous felines. Scientists used to believe that prides—groups of a few to more than a dozen related females typically guarded by two or more males—were organized for hunting.
The Jua Kali pride lives far out on the Serengeti plains, where the land is the dull color of burlap, and termite mounds rise like small volcanoes. Early one morning last August, Serengeti Lion Project researchers found Hildur, a Herculean male with a blond mane, limping around near a grassy ditch.
He was roaring softly, possibly in an effort to contact his darker-maned co-leader. But C-Boy, the researchers saw, had been cornered on the crest of a nearby hill by a fearsome trio of snarling males whom Packer and colleagues call The Killers. Resident males may be mortally wounded in the fighting. Females sometimes die fighting to defend their cubs. The researchers suspected that The Killers, who normally live near a river 12 miles away, had already dispatched two females from a different pride—thus The Killers earned their names.
C-Boy, surrounded, gave a strangled growl. The Killers fell on him, first two, then all three, slashing and biting as he swerved, their blows falling on his vulnerable hindquarters. None of the Jua Kali lions had been spotted since the fight, but we kept riding out to their territory to look for them.
Finally, one afternoon we found JKM, the mother of the Jua Kali litter, lolling atop a termite mound as large and intricate as a pipe organ. She was also scanning the sky for vultures, perhaps in the hopes of scavenging a hyena kill. She stood up and ambled off into the hip-high grass. We could see dark circles around her nipples: Against the odds, her cubs seemed to have survived. Perhaps the apparent good fortune of the Jua Kali cubs was linked to another recent sighting, Packer speculated: The cubs were panting and mewling pitifully, clearly in distress; normally cubs stay in their den during the heat of the day.
The Killers might have forsaken the Jua Kali females to take over the Mukoma Hill pride, which inhabits richer territory near river confluences to the north. Packer recalled a similar pattern of invasion in the early s by the Seven Samurai, a coalition of males, several with spectacular black manes, who had once brought down two adult, 1,pound Cape buffaloes and a calf in a single day. It took a while for Packer to tune into such dramas.
He slept in a metal structure called The Cage to be closer to the animals. By the time Packer and Pusey installed themselves in the Lion House, scientists were well aware that lions are ambush predators with little stamina and that they gorge at a kill, each one downing up to 70 pounds in a sitting.
Lions eat, in addition to antelope and wildebeest, crocodiles, pythons, fur seals, baboons, hippopotamuses, porcupines and ostrich eggs. Lion territories are quite large—15 square miles on the low end, ranging up to nearly —and are passed down through generations of females. Lions are vigorous when it comes to reproduction; Schaller observed one male mate times in 55 hours.
Packer and Pusey set out not just to document lion behavior but to explain how it had evolved. Did they really hunt cooperatively? They noted where the lions congregated, who was eating how much of what, who had mated, who was wounded, who survived and who died.
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They described interactions at kills. It was slow going, even after they put radio collars on several lions in Following prides at night—the animals are largely nocturnal—he sometimes thought he would go mad. 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.
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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. 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.