I can't even begin to tell you how exciting it was to see my first lion in the wild!!! She was lying out in the open, her brown coat blending with the golden grasses, snoozing in the sunshine. What a thrill it was to see her head pop up, and then see her whole body as she stood! We thought she might be the only one we would see while on safari. As it turned out, we saw over a dozen lions, both males and females, during our eight days of driving around the Serengeti area.
Lioness checking out her surroundings.
Girls, you're going to love this! It's the females (lionesses) that are the hunters. A group of lionesses and their children (cubs) usually live together in a group called a "pride". One male lion can live with a pride, but only if the females allow him to stay. The lionesses cooperate with each other because their survival depends on it.
The lioness we saw eating a wildebeest was able to capture it on her own because it was small, and had separated from its herd. This time, there was no male around to share the feast, but the laughing hyenas soon closed in on her. For more photos go to the Gross but Fascinating page.
Usually, when stalking their prey, the lionesses will spread out on two sides of a selected animal, perhaps a wildebeest or zebra. The lioness in charge will then run directly toward the prey, trying to get it to move away from the rest of its herd. As the animal begins to run away, the other lionesses will close in on both sides. The animal has little chance of escaping. In order to be successful, the lionesses must plan, and communicate their plan to each other – good evidence of thinking behavior, don't you think?!
Once the lionesses have killed an animal, they, and their cubs, will begin to eat it quickly. They know that soon the male of the pride will come over and push them out of the way so he can eat!
Lions sleep 20 hours a day!
Each pride of lions has a fixed area where it lives and hunts. This territory will be quite large, and no other lions are allowed in it. Not everyone follows the rules, of course. That's when the roaring and fighting break out. If the fight is between male lions, the stronger male will win. If that's the newcomer, he will then try to be really sweet and nice to the lionesses so he can come live with them.
The lion is the "king" because it's the top predator in the food web. It eats other animals (wildebeest, zebra, warthog, antelope, giraffe, ostrich), but no animal eats the lion. What do you think would happen in this ecosystem if all the lions were killed off? What do you think would happen if there were an overpopulation of lions in this habitat?
"Simba" is a Swahili word that means "lion".
King of the Serengeti