Lioness checking out her surroundings.

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.

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.

A lioness eating a young wildebeest she has just killed. Hyenas are coming.

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?!

Lions sleep 20 hours a day!

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!

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?

66 thoughts on “Lions

    • Hi Niamh. The male lions are about 4 feet tall (from ground to top of shoulders). How tall are you from floor to shoulders?

    • No, I wasn’t scared. I trusted our guide when he told us that he had lots of experience with the lions, and that if we’re quiet the lion would just keep walking. The lion doesn’t usually think of humans as prey.

    • It sure would be tempting to keep one as a pet, wouldn’t it? They’re such beautiful animals. But the answer is no, I wouldn’t keep one. Besides the fact that it would take up too much room when it jumped up on the couch, a lion needs a large territory to roam. It would not be happy as a house pet.

    • No, I wasn’t scared. However, I was cautious and ready to duck down into the truck if the lion started to pay too much attention to us!

  1. Dear Ms.Christie Blick,
    I know this a really wierd question, but do lions eat other lions? And does the mother do the huanting or does the father do the huanting. ps keep having fun on your trip bye.

  2. Do some male lions hunt on their own? If so, would it be good because the lion can eat the meat on it's own without having to share? Or, is it a bad thing since the lion is a lot less likely to capture prey?

    • You’re right, Brian. It’s kind of complicated, and there’s no one right answer. A male wouold hunt on its own if it’s hungry and if it’s not attached to a pride of female lions. If he doesn’t hunt he’ll starve to death. On the other hand, he has a better chance of getting his prey if some friends help him!

  3. That lion is really fearless and brave. It walked through a whole bunch of safari trucks and didn't stop! It looks like he feels that he is the king of the cars and people too! Can you imagine if you put yourself in a whole group of lions, would you still be relaxed and feel like the king of lions? I don't think i would be as brave as that lion in tht situation! This kind of thing wouldn't happen in a zoo! This lion must be very happy that he lives in the wild.

    • Thanks for sharing the title of the book, Blair. Now those of us interested in lions can read more about these fascinating animals! 🙂

  4.  It is okay that you didn't see a lion cub. At least you saw lions/ lionesses. I LOVE lions/lioness. there are so cute. ( if there are not fighting at least! )

  5. I think you are very lucky to see an actual lion. Did you see if the other people were scared or not? Were you scared too? Do lions have big manes or small manes? Also, did you see any cubs?

    • Nobody was scared because we had been informed by the guides that lions do not attack people unless they feel threatened. However, we were cautious. Everyone was very quiet, and ready to pop down into the truck if the lion looked like he was getting upset.

      The male lions have very large manes when they’re full grown. Sadly, we didn’t see any lion cubs.

    • Jack, Mr. Tanenbaum is right. If the lion is in the truck, let it walk on through!
      This is what I was told by the safari guide. You can keep this in mind for the next time you see a lion in the wild if you're not in a safari truck….

      Whatever you do, don't run! If you run, the lion thinks you're prey and it will hunt you down. It can run faster than you, so you have no chance of out-running it. Instead, stand still, with hands in the air, and face the lion. Look as big as you can. Look the lion right in the eyes and show no fear, even if the lion starts walking toward you. With a bit of luck, the lion will just walk past you. This strategy has worked for some of the guides. Good luck!

  6. You must of had a great time!  I know how excited you must of been because my mom and dad went to Africa for there honey moon.  She took great pictures of Lions and you did too. 

    • Brendan, thank you for using a capital letter at the beginning of your question, and a question mark at the end. Many of the children are forgetting to use proper punctuation. Punctuation makes it so much easier to read comments and questions!

      We had to stay in the safari truck while we were out in the wilds. The animals could be dangerous, so you wouldn’t want to go for a walk. The animals are wild, after all. Our guide told us that the animals view the safari truck as one big animal. If there’s not a lot of movement or loud noise inside, they don’t notice the individual bodies inside the truck. That’s why we were able to keep the top of the truck open even when there were lions around.

      Want to hear a funny story? One day, at a picnic spot, where we were allowed to get out and eat lunch at a picnic table, Robert, our guide, left the top of the truck open. As soon as we stepped away from the truck a vervet monkey jumped inside to look for a snack! Robert ran back and scared him away.

      •     What in the world do vervet monkeys like to eat? What's their preference of food to eat? I keep on hearing that they like to take snacks from other people, but really, what do they take mostly of?

        • Vervet monkeys are SUPPOSED TO eat fruit, leaves, seeds, flowers, birds’ eggs and insects. I think they’ll try most any people food they can get their little hands on. I’m sure they’d love the fruit the best!

    • Male lions are usually on their own, but sometimes hang out with their brothers for awhile. If they get into a fight (as brothers sometimes do) they go their separate ways.

      Female lions like to hang out together in a group. We call it a “pride” of lions. But sometimes a lioness just wants time to herself. Do you ever feel that way? We saw some lionesses in a pride, sleeping among the trees. Others, like the one who caught the wildebeest was on her own. A pride of lionesses “own” a large territory. If others come onto their land, there will be a fight.

    • That’s an interesting question, Declan. Lions don’t eat their own under normal circumstances, but it would kill another lion during a fight for territory.

        • A male lion eats about 15 pounds of meat each day. A female lion eats about 11 pounds of meat a day. If you have a food scale at home, weigh the amount of meat you eat for dinner tonight. How much does it weigh?

        • Good question, Faith. I don’t know the answer. I’ve googled it, but I’m not finding a good answer from a reliable source. Can anyone else find the answer to Faith’s question? If so, please reply here. Be sure to copy and paste the URL from the website in the reply box with your answer. Thanks!

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