Watch a Lion Challenge His Father for the King of the Jungle Crown

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Written by Angie Menjivar

Updated: November 10, 2023

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Two male lions fighting
© Elagina/

Male lions are territorial; there’s no way around that. It’s their nature. But sometimes, they form coalitions with one another. The strength in numbers may cause them to get overconfident, however, which leads them to bite off more than they can chew.

Watch the video to see when a young male lion coalition attempts to take their father’s territory.

Is It Normal Behavior For Male Lions to Fight For Leadership?

male lion

Male lions actively engage in battles for dominance.

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The answer here is a loud, yes! Young male lions are expected to engage in dominance battles, as they live and are social cats. They live in family units known as prides.

In this social structure, the title of pride leader demands ongoing defense.

Additionally, while a dominant male usually fathers the majority, often around 80-100%, of the cubs within his territory, the most significant conflicts among coalition males typically arise during a female’s estrous cycle.

Furthermore, lionesses within a pride maintain strong bonds and often remain with their respective prides for the entirety of their lives.

How Do Male Lions Establish Their Territory?

Male lions establish their territory in various ways. While physical confrontation is certainly a method by which male lions establish territory, they also use vocalizations like roaring. This terrifying sound is the message of a male lion claiming his territory (or attempting to overtake another).

If a male rival is near, a loud roar could discourage approach. Lions also engage in the practice of scent marking. This is a silent way they mark their territory that speaks volumes to any other males starting to encroach. Male lions also routinely patrol their territory and need to maintain their pride — otherwise, even female lions can remove them from their position.

Three male lions fight

Prides have one, two or three males that protect their territory.


Why Do Male Lions Form Coalitions?

Male lions, though powerful on their own, find several benefits when they come together to form a coalition. For instance, their chance of survival increases when they stick together during their formative years. They can help one another if they encounter a threat.

Not only that but lions are social creatures and often, coalitions are formed by brothers from the same litter. They serve as companions, helping to regulate their need for social interaction. Just as they benefit when facing other predators, they also benefit when hunting. They can work together to take down prey animals, relishing the feast immediately after.

Lion Challenges His Father

The footage below was filmed at Masai Mara in Kenya and captures the moments when a young lion coalition attempts to take over another territory. Not just any territory, however — their fathers’ territory. The person filming keeps the camera focused on one of the lions as it walks past, roaring lightly as it walks. Then, two more lions come into view. The next scene is of the three lions walking determinedly, letting out guttural roars as they continue.

The explanation comes on screen and reads, “Their fathers hear the roars and rush to defend their territory.” When the coalition takes a good look at what they are up against, they decide to retreat. Although they come in hot, the sheer size of their predecessors immediately gives them a lesson in humility. The older males have effectively defended their territory with their presence alone. In protest, the coalition continues roaring — only from a safer distance.

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About the Author

Angie Menjivar is a writer at A-Z-Animals primarily covering pets, wildlife, and the human spirit. She has 14 years of experience, holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology, and continues her studies into human behavior, working as a copywriter in the mental health space. She resides in North Carolina, where she's fallen in love with thunderstorms and uses them as an excuse to get extra cuddles from her three cats.

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