4th August – Happy world Lion Day!
INTRODUCTION TO LIONS:
Lions are my favourite animals and the reason why I decided to move to South Africa back in 2012. They are beautiful, bold, brave, team players and each time I see them, I am just happy!
When I first came to South Africa in 2011, I was looking for a real African experience, to understand if monitoring and studying lions could have been my future. As soon as I arrived to LEO Africa, and in particular, the day that I saw my first lion… I decided that I wanted this path to be my future. So here I am, trying to make a difference as a Ranger and Wildlife Monitor, although Covid brought many difficulties with it.
It is estimated that there are about 20.000 lions left in the wild. Loss of habitat, (due to human expansion, urbanisation, deforestation for plantations and agriculture, mining), poaching and human wildlife conflict, are among the main reasons of the drop of the lion population in the wild. It is very sad to know as well that especially in South Africa it is estimated that there are about 10.000 lions in captivity, who are bred with the purpose of selling the carcasses to China for the lion bone trade and before being killed, they are exploited in tourist practices (lion cub petting, lion walks). I recently wrote an article on Insider Release on this topic. >> click here to read it << In the article I give an overview of the lion breeding industry in South Africa – however, my main concern that I also raise in the article is: “what is it going to happen to all wild lions if the lion breeding industry stops?”. It is easy to say:” stop the lion breeding”, but what is the alternative, to make sure that wild lions will not be poached for the bones, like it happens for the rhinos for the rhino horn?
WORLD LION DAY, EVERYDAY!
To me, world lion day (as well as pangolin/cheetah/earth/elephant/rhino etc) are every day! I believe that we should celebrate all the beauties of nature every day of our lives and respect them deeply, as the environment is at the base of everything and all its inhabitants maintain a balance. So I believe that World Lion Day can be a great day to sensibile people on the topic and make them passionate about a cause… With the aim of involving and educating people to respect our beloved planet 365 days a year.
10 AMAZING LION FACTS!
- Lions live in groups called “Prides”, who are composed by females, their youngsters and males. Once males reach about two years of age, they are sent away by the mothers. This is to avoid interbreeding as well as to push them to create new prides and spread the genetic with other females. Moreover, the dominant male/s would not allow competition in their territory!
- A lion gestation period is 110 days, and the female gives birth to 1-4 cubs.
- A male lion weighs about
- The cubs are born “altricial”, meaning that they can’t walk or see and the mom keeps them hidden (in dense bushes, koppies, rocky outcrops etc.) for two months before introducing them to the rest of the pride. The mom leaves the cubs on their own when she needs to go hunting, drinking and socialising with the rest of the pride.
- Both the male and the females hunt! Often it is said that the males are lazy and would not look for their food. This is incorrect, as males actually can be helpful in the hunt, being more powerful, taking down larger preys.
- Males are territorial and leave the pride to go and mark/protect the territory from other males.
- A lion’s mane can change in colour due to genetic. Some lions have a darker main (almost black!), some other are more “blonde”. It is believed that lions with a darker mane have more testosterone and can be more aggressive. The mane is important in male lions because it protects the neck area during fights, but it is also counterproductive in hunting as the male lion struggles more to camouflage.
- Both male and female lions roar and it can be heard up to 8km of distance with the wind in favour. Roaring is a territorial call, to indicate the presence of the individual/s in the area.
- In most of the cases, if a new male takes over a pride and there are cubs, the new male kills the cubs up to a year old fathered by another male and start mating with the females. Infanticide induces oestrus again in female. Note: in a reserve where I used to work, this didn’t happen. I believe it is because the female “pretended” to be in oestrus and mated with the male, but managed to get back to the cubs and raise them anyway. A very experienced female! I saw the new males well tolerating the cubs.
- Lions are predominantly nocturnal although active also during the day, especially in the early morning. They can sleep up to 20 hours a day, in order to preserve the energies for hunting and territory marking.
Do you have any question? Would you like to know more? Leave a comment and I will come back to you!
Thank you for reading! Until next time!