Lions have always been one of the favourites among the Big 5 animals in Africa. At Kapama Private Game Reserve, we have three female breeding prides. There are two dominant male brothers, often referred to as the Hoedspruit males working together as a coalition, who rules all. Because these two males are in charge of the entire reserve, they do not need to spend all their time with the females and we will often find the two brothers just roaming by themselves. They will even hunt for themselves, but when they reunite with the females they make it clear that they are the kings.
Here are 5 interesting facts about lions:
Lions live in a range of habitats ranging from jungles to bushveld and even semi-desert areas. The size of the home range and territories of lions will depend on the availability of food and water.
Lions will hunt at least once a week depending on how large their last meal is, capable of devouring over 30kg of meat in one sitting.
Each area will provide an abundance of food sources for lions such as Impala, Buffalo, Giraffe, Zebra or any other antelope or animal.
How lions Hunt
On Kapama, our lions have become experts in bringing down a giraffe, but are also very efficient in hunting Zebra, Impala and other antelope species.
Hunting Giraffe comes at great risk for the lions as the giraffe has a powerful kick, but the reward is worth it as one sizable giraffe can feed a pride of lions for up to 3 days.
The methods of bringing down a Giraffe vary. Sometimes the lions might just run after a giraffe and jump on its back and try and tire it out to bring him down.
On other occasions, we have seen the lions chasing the giraffe into the fence line of our lodges or borderline.
They will chase the giraffe into areas with uneven or slippery surfaces and then make the giraffe change direction quickly or even try to trip them.
It is always amazing to watch these interactions and to see how the lions can coordinate their hunt without making a single sound.
After the lions have made the kill they will then proceed to drag the carcass under a shady tree to try and preserve the meat for a couple of days.
Night and day activity
Lions will spend most of their time resting.
Most days they will only be active for about 4 hours, resting the remaining 20 hours.
In many cases the places that they choose to rest will be spots next to popular travelling routes of animals and the lions will sleep behind a bush or shrub where they will be hidden and in the perfect place for an ambush.
Lions are most active in the early mornings and late evenings when the temperatures would be at their lowest.
The reason for this is to try and save energy as they do not know when their next meal might be.
The more they move around, the more energy they burn and the sooner they need to feed again.
Even the way they walk by barely lifting their paws off the ground is done to preserve energy and will only walk a couple of hundred meters and then lie down again.
An interesting fact about their feet is they have five toes on the front paws and four on the back.
Offspring – Lion Cubs
Of the three breeding prides on Kapama, two currently have cubs.
Our youngest cubs are two from the Moria pride who are around six months.
The Guernsey pride has seven older cubs who we have watched with great interest over the past 18 months.
Lion cubs are born with spots and as they grow older the spots will slowly start disappearing.
Mothers will hide the cubs from the rest of the pride for about the first 3 months of the cubs life, and only after that will they introduce them to the pride. The reason why a lion will hide her cubs – simply for survival.
Cubs can often be seen engaging in playful interactions with their siblings or other pride members. It includes pouncing, stalking, biting, rolling etc. It helps develop their hunting skills for when they are older
Size of male lion
Male lions can weight up to 190 kgs and the length of their manes can be around 16cm.
Roaring and communicating
There are a number of reasons a lion will bellow out that incredible roar which can send chills down ones spine. They roar to communicate with other members of the pride and locate distant members. Their roar is used to alert predators and warn the pride. It is also a sign of power. Their roar can be heard up to 5 miles or 8 km away.
It is no wonder lions are one of the favourites of our guests.
You never know what will happen with lions when walking around or even while they sleeping. It is always fun to see them being more active, but for me, I can watch them sleeping as they look so peaceful when they sleep with no worry in the world.
Truly the kings and queens of the animal kingdom, at the top of the food chain.
Story by Abrie – Kapama Karula guide
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