This clip features a violent confrontation between a group of younger lions and an older male. Even though he is outnumbered, the single male lion is showing them who is in charge. Apart from the initial tussle, most of this confrontation involves posturing and roaring. None of the younger males wants to be the one that attacks the older male! Scroll down to see the full clip which gives us a perfect illustration of these big cats fighting for dominance over territory and mating rights.
Where Do Lions Normally Live?
Lions are found in sub-Saharan Africa. This particular footage was captured in Botswana but lions are found in 27 African countries in total. Most are in the east and the south of the continent. Sadly, lions now live in just eight percent of their historic range and some sub-populations are critically endangered.
Climate change may also make many areas of southern and west Africa less suitable for lions to live in. Decreased rainfall is likely to lead to more droughts which means that prey will be less available.
Is It Normal for Male Lions to Live in Groups?
The main social unit for lions is the pride. However, this is made up of mainly female lions. It is a matriarchal group that contains females who are genetically related and their offspring. Often, they will synchronize their births and they will work together to bring up the lion cubs.
The male role in the pride is more difficult to pin down. A pride can have a single male associated with it or up to seven males may have an association with a single pride. Male cubs leave their pride when they reach sexual maturity. At the same time, related males may form a small group which is called a coalition. Coalitions can also be formed by young unrelated males.
It’s common for these coalitions to travel around their habitat challenging other males who already hold the mating rights to a pride. A male lion is associated with a pride for only two or three years and then he moves on. He can also be ejected by a new male or by a coalition.
In this particular case, it looks as if the male coalition was made up of young animals who are not yet ready to challenge a mature male. They are learning and honing their skills for when the time is right. Lions are quite good at working out when they should not risk getting injured!
Is This Normal Behavior?
As we have mentioned, the challenge of male lions within a pride is common and to be expected as part of lions’ social habits. The top male cat always has to be on the lookout for other young upstarts trying to dethrone him, so to speak. This is all done for mating rights within the pride.
What may not be totally normal about the behavior seen in the video above is that an older, more mature lion seems to be fending off a challenge from three lions at once. Perhaps they were members of the pride that wanted to test the strength of the strongest male member, or maybe they were wandering outcasts looking for a new pride in which they could depose the lead male. Either way, they were proven wrong!
The photo featured at the top of this post is © J_K/Shutterstock.com
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