Male lions are engineered to defend their pride and territories from invaders.
Lionesses rarely move from their territories. All the lionesses in a territory are related. Territorial rights among females are usually passed down several generations.
Even though both males and females are territorial, they play different roles in defending the territory. Females, the majority in a pride, are charged with hunting to feed the pride. They are faster and more agile than the males, making them more suitable for chasing down their equally fast, if not quicker, prey.
Females fiercely strive to prevent other females from rival prides from creeping into their territories. The stranger females not only compete for prey but are known to kill the young ones of rival females.
The male lion is the true definition of a fighter. It often has to fight to maintain control over the pride and defend it from other males keen to take over.
When rival prides encroach into a pride’s territory, the dominant males will likely be summoned by the females to defend the pride.
Even though this spectacular occurrence happens now and then, it is rarely captured on video. But a tourist at the Mavela Game Lodge caught a clash between rival prides that almost escalated into a vicious battle until a dominant male gracefully strode in, sending the rival pride scampering for safety.
Why Do They Defend Territories?
Lions defend their territories to ensure the continuity of their pride. A territory varies in size and usually contains everything the pride needs to survive, ranging from watering holes to dens for raising the young.
Having a territory is a matter of life and death because surviving becomes much more challenging without it. Moreover, it ensures food security and continuity through breeding.
Male lions can survive solitarily but always seek to join or even take over a territory. Young males sometimes move from one territory to another, fight, and assume dominance over new territories.
The lion’s ancestors likely began living in prides to make it easier to defend territories.
How Do They Defend the Territories?
Lions roar to demonstrate their territorial behavior. A lion’s roar is arguably the most iconic vocalization in the animal kingdom. It can travel up to five miles to advertise the male’s presence, readiness, and willingness to defend their territory and pride.
Both male and female lions also roar to inform pride members about their position.
Lions can count the number of invaders by their roar. Knowing the number of invading males is critical because it informs their decisions to stand their ground and defend their territory or flee for safety.
Females will respond to a rival pride’s roar if they know they have the numbers to defeat them. However, if they notice they are outnumbered, the females will not react and will likely flee from the rival’s direction.
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