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|Lion - Panthera leo|
|Topic Started: Jan 7 2012, 08:37 PM (11,744 Views)|
|Taipan||Jan 7 2012, 08:37 PM Post #1|
Lion - Panthera leo
Lions are unique in that they are the only cats to live in groups (prides). The male lion is also the only cat to have a mane, giving it a regal appearance that has earned it the title of 'king of the beasts'.
Africa: P.l.leo, P.l.azandica, P.l.bleyenberghi, P.l.krugeri, P.l.nubica, P.l.senegalensis,
Lions live for 12-16 years in the wild and 25 years in captivity
Body length: 170-190cm , Tail length: 70-150cm, Shoulder height: 80-110cm, Weight: male: 150-225kg, Female: 120-150kg. Males are much larger than females and can be 50 per cent heavier.
The lion, tawny to sandy brown in colour, is the largest of the African carnivores. Cubs are faintly spotted on the lower parts; some adults retain traces of the spots. Adult males have manes that vary in colour from tawny to black. This, together with their larger size, distinguishes them from females.
In historic times the habitat of lions spanned the southern parts of Eurasia, ranging from Portugal to India, and most of Africa except the central rain forest-zone and the sahara-desert. Around the beginning of the current era they died out from Western Europe and since the 2nd century, the lion has been extinct in Europe. Between the late 19th century and early 20th century they also became extinct from North Africa and Middle East. Now, most of the population lives in eastern and southern Africa, and their numbers are rapidly decreasing, estimated as between 16,000 and 30,000 living in the wild, down from an estimated 100,000 in the early 1990s. The population is even more in jeopardy, because the remaining populations are often geographically isolated from each other, which causes inbreeding.
Most of the population lives in eastern and southern Africa, and their numbers are rapidly decreasing, estimated as between 16,000 and 30,000 living in the wild, down from an estimated 100,000 in the early 1990s. The population is even more in jeopardy, because the remaining populations are often geographically isolated from each other, which causes inbreeding
The Asiatic Lion subspecies now survives only in and around the Gir Forest of northwestern India. About 300 lions live in a 1412 km² (558 square miles) sanctuary in the state of Gujarat, which covers most of the forest. Their numbers remain stable
Lions differ from other cats by regularly hunting in groups. When hunting small prey, each lion pursues its own animal; with larger and more dangerous prey co-operation is needed to split a herd or pull down and kill one animal.
Lions usually hunt at night or dawn. Their prey consists mainly of large mammals, such as antelopes, gazelles, warthogs, wildebeest, buffalos and zebras, but smaller animals like hares and birds are also taken occasionally. Carrion is readily taken and often recovered from other predators like hyenas and wild dogs. In some areas lions specialise on rather untypical prey-species; this is the case at the Savuti river, where they constantly prey on young elephants, and at the Linyanti, where they hunt hippos (both rivers are in Chobe National Park, Botswana). It is reported that the lions, driven by extreme hunger, started taking down baby elephants, then moved on to adolescents and occasionally fully grown adults
Lions can reach speeds of about 60 km/h (37 mph), but they don't have the endurance to be long-distance runners, so they have to come quite close to their prey before starting the attack. They sneak up to the victim until they reach a distance of about 30 m (98 feet) or less. Usually several lions work together and encircle the herd from different points. The attack is short and powerful and the lion tries to catch the victim with a fast rush and some final leaps. The prey is usually killed by a bite into the nape or throat.
Lions live in groups called prides. The pride may consist of up to twelve related adult females and their young, and up to six adult males who are probably related to each other but not to the females. Prides can range from 3-30 individuals, but average 4-6. Theories as to why lions live in social groups include increased hunting success, defence of young, maintenance of long-term territories, insurance against individual injury and minimisation of chances of getting no food at all.
Of all the big cats, the lion is the only one which relies extensively on group co-operation. Lionesses tend to stay in the pride they are born in. This makes the group a collection of sisters, aunts, mothers and grandmothers who have grown up together. Males are expelled from the pride that they are born in once they reach maturity. They usually form coalitions with other males (often relations) with whom they hunt and scavenge for food.
Females tend to do most of the hunting for the whole pride. They hunt cooperatively, each individual taking on a different role. The larger lionesses tend to ambush prey which the females on the wings chase in her direction. Lions usually hunt at night.
Male lions defend the pride against intruders. They mark key points of the territory with urine and patrol the boundaries regularly, roaring to warn other lions of their presence. Competition between males to head a pride is fierce, and males tend to hold ownership for only 2-3 years. Fights for possession of a pride are vicious and may result in serious injury or death.
Females will tend to come into oestrus simultaneously and thus most of the cubs are born at the same time. Lionesses give birth to 2-5 cubs, after a gestation period of 100-116 days. The cubs are cared for by all the females in the pride, and will suckle from other females as well as from their mother.
Fourteen to seventy three per cent of all lion cubs die before they reach the age of two (varies according to location). A new male in a pride will kill all the cubs which has the effect of bringing the females into oestrus. This means that only he will be the father of the cubs in the pride.
|Taipan||Jan 10 2012, 02:25 PM Post #2|
|Taipan||Jan 10 2012, 02:32 PM Post #3|
The brother/pride-mate male coalitions form very quickly after leaving their pride. The coalition is nomadic until they find a pride they can overtake. Overtaking a pride is not an easy task, and the resident males will fight significantly to try to avoid being kicked out of their pride. These overthrows result in many injured and/or dead lions. Regardless of whether the resident males die in fighting the incoming males or not, they will die of starvation shortly after losing their pride. Male coalitions that are evicted rarely ever establish residence within a pride again, and if they don’t have a pride then they can’t reproduce nor gain access to food as easily and consequently die due to starvation. The typical residence for a coalition is only 2-3 years. Therefore, the life expectancy of a male lion is very short (Grinnell 1995).
The larger the coalition, the easier it is to take over a pride and the longer they will retain their residence. Large coalitions are also capable of holding onto two smaller prides as well. However, there is a certain degree of difficulty in having such a large coalition of males. Male lions only form coalitions with their brothers and their pridemates; therefore, their native pride must have been very large with multiple females in synchronous birth and lacking in predation or infanticidal males to produce this large of a coalition. Unfortunately, not that many male cubs actually make it to form such a large coalition. Therefore, the average size of a male coalition is around 1-4 males (Bygott 1979).
This photo has 1 large coalition of males!
Any guesses how many!
Rates and causes of mortality among lions in three study prides have shown that mortality is highest among adult males (7 currently alive of 21 known males in the study area, mortality rate = 67%, annual mortality = 13%), followed by cubs (38 reached 2 yrs old, 8 cubs currently < 6mo of 114 cubs emerging from dens, mortality rate = 60%), followed by adult females (14 currently alive of 27 total = 48%, annual mortality = 10%). Causes of mortality among adult males and females also differ; fights with other males are the most important contributory factor to known mortality of males, and problem animal control and disease contributing most significantly to mortality among females. Most cubs died of unknown causes, although the greatest known contributing factor to cub mortality (38%) is associated with attempted or actual pride takeovers by incoming males. As a general observation, primiparous mothers have very low rates of cub survival especially if these cubs are born out of synchrony with other cubs. Cub mortality rates differed among the study prides: while the Santawani pride had more cubs emerge from dens than other prides, a greater percentage of these cubs subsequently died, and the pride had the lowest cub survival rate of the three prides compared . As discussed, such mortality was directly attributable to high rates of male coalition turnover in the Santawani pride."
Solo v Cooperative
Traditionally, female lions were thought to live in groups because they benefited from cooperative hunting. (The females hunt more often than the resident males.) But on closer examination, we have found that groups of hunting lions do not feed any better than solitary females. In fact, large groups end up at a disadvantage because the companions often refuse to cooperate in capturing prey.
Once one female has started to hunt, her companions may or may not join her. If the prey is large enough to feed the entire pride, as is the usual case, the companions face a dilemma: although a joint hunt may be more likely to succeed, the additional hunters must exert themselves and risk injury. But if a lone hunter can succeed on her own, her pridemates might gain a free meal. Thus, the advantages of cooperative hunting depend on the extent to which a second hunter can improve her companion's chances for success, and this in turn depends on the companion's hunting ability. If a lone animal is certain to succeed, the benefits of helping could never exceed the costs. But if she is incompetent, the advantages of a latecomer's assistance may well exceed the costs.
Evidence from a wide variety of bird, insect and mammalian species suggests that, as expected, cooperation is most wholehearted when lone hunters do need help. The flip side of this trend is that species are least cooperative when hunters can most easily succeed on their own. Consistent with this observation, our graduate student David Scheel found that the Serengeti lions most often work together when tackling such difficult prey as buffalo or zebra. But in taking down easy prey--say, a wildebeest or warthog--a lioness often hunts alone; her companions watch from the sidelines.
Conditions are not the same throughout the world. In the Etosha Pan of Namibia, lions specialize in catching one of the fastest of all antelopes, the springbok, in flat, open terrain. A single lion could never capture a springbok, and so the Etosha lions are persistently cooperative. Philip Stander of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in Namibia has drawn an analogy between their hunting tactics and a rugby team's strategy, in which wings and centers move in at once to circle the ball, or prey. This highly developed teamwork stands in sharp contrast to the disorganized hunting style of the Serengeti lions."
So it seems it depends on conditions & prey as to whether a lioness hunts solo or in a group.
This graph also illustrates that too -
Male Lion with Giraffe
That pic is from a new video I have - Renegade Lions
This male was guarding a Giraffe that he had killed earlier. Lions are notorious for chasing their prey towards roads, if there is any in the area, where the animal might slip and fall and break something. Thats what this one lone young lion had done and was very content to have his meal in the middle of the road blocking traffic. The rangers moved the dead giraffe off the road where the lion continued his meal. After his meal he tried to take a nap but was forced to defend his kill from vultures and a persistantJackael. Later that night the lion lost his kill to numerous Hyena that came.
Photo taken near Balule Camp, Kruger National Park, South Africa
"Lion male checks for hyena and other scavengers while feeding on giraffe, Kruger National Park, South Africa. "
Lioness chasing Giraffe
Lions v Lioness
An hour after the last skirmish the older female lion slowly crept up to the carcass, careful not to disturb the Mohawk male resting beside it. The larger male was sleeping under a tree 50 yards away.
She eased up to the carcass on her belly the final few feet, then began to eat cautiously, with the male on the other side of the buffalo. The male jumped up and literally 'got into her face', but this time she had waited long enough and wasn't going to back down.
She swatted at the male with a right hook, then a left hook and the satiated male backed up a step, seemingly caught off-guard by her aggressiveness and looking a bit intimidated.
It looks like this courageous (or insanely hungry) female has earned a place at the buffet but suddenly the second male roars in and attacks her, smacking her in the face with a left hook.
Incredibly she fights back, with a quick right jab and then a blow to the nose. This was a bad career move!
In this next sequence the enraged male shows how a lion attacks, with a roundhouse right to the head that knocks her down, then both males attack her. All this occurred in about 2 seconds as we were shooting as fast as possible.
In a close-up of this frame you can see the claws are extended and the female's head is twisted to the side as the blow knocks her off balance and on her back.
Now both males attack, one grappling with her head as the other bites her stomach. She twists away in pain from the stomach bite. Note the protection offered by the mane on the lion on the left as the female's claws and blows are cushioned by the thick matted fur.
By now the lioness is no longer fighting for a bite to eat, she is fighting for her life. The male on the right is moving in to grab her by the nape and if his canines penetrated her spine she could be crippled.
Here you can see the second male biting her in the back as she twists away. They took her down again, then she twisted away one final time and escaped. All this took place in about four seconds, according to the date-stamp on the digital files.
Schaller describes several lion fights he and associates witnessed while doing field research nearby that did not turn out so well for the losers. To quote extensively from "The Serengeti Lion" (a National Book Award Winner when first published in 1972 and still a fine read) ... "Lions showed little restraint when biting each other and some wounds caused rapid death. Several cubs were bitten to death. One of the Seronera males died after a fight. One nomadic male was killed presumably by another male in a brief but violent battle: the nomad had been bitten thrrough the nape, breaking his neck ... On March 16 ... G. Dove watched a lioness walk, then crawl toward a male on a kill near Lake Lagaja. Suddenly he attacked her, and, after a brief flurry, she collapsed, quivered, and lay still. She had been bitten through the back of the neck ... Schenkel watched a male pursue a lioness, bite her in the lower back and shake her, thereby breaking her vertebral column in two places. The lioness was paralzyed in her hind quarters and died about 20 minutes later."
These last two instances, where males bit females on the back or in the neck and killed them, were on my mind as I watched these two males attack the female. I think she was lucky to escape with a few scars.
After winning the battle the Mohawk lion returned to the carcass and fed while the other one walked up to our vehicle and lay down in the shade. Note the flies covering this lion's back and face (below).
The Mohawk male had blood on his muzzle from where the female bit him. The lioness walked away with as much dignity as she could muster, no slinking or running, just a purposeful stride as if she suddenly remembered she had an important appointment and couldn't be bothered to hang around with these losers any longer. You could see teeth imprints on her back but no blood and she wasn't limping, which was a good sign. She didn't look back and the other female and younger injured male followed her, giving up the carcass for good.
*The comments are by the photographer.
Infanticide is a common practice in most mammals. Male lions use infanticide to get rid of offspring in a newly acquired pride that are not genetically related to the male coalition. Solitary males are also capable of killing the offspring of an encountered pride (Packer 1983). Female lions have also been observed to kill cubs from a rival pride, but they would never kill cubs from their own pride. The dead offspring are sometimes consumed as an energy source and other times they are simply just eradicated for the sake of it. Older cubs and sub-adults have a better chance of being able to escape incoming infanticidal males than younger cubs (Urban 2002).
Infanticide is very advantageous to incoming males in that they are getting rid of offspring that do not carry their genes (Packer 1983). The other advantage of killing the offspring of the former owners of the pride is that a female will quickly enter estrous following the infanticidal event. As a result, the incoming males are then capable of copulating very soon after overtaking the pride (Viljoen 2003). However, following the takeover it usually takes a lioness 6-9 estrous cycles in order to become impregnated again. Packer hypothesizes that this duration of time is caused by the female adapting to the new male’s sperm rather than the female being infertile (Packer 1983).
Infanticide & Female Response
Male Lion killing Cub
|Taipan||Jan 10 2012, 02:36 PM Post #4|
Came across this interesting article written by an Anthropologist at the University of Winsconsin.-
"Lion predation on elephants
home :: reviews :: life_history :: risk :: lion_elephant_predation_2006.w
I'm reading a bit about risk in large animal hunting, and I ran across an article by Dereck Joubert on elephant hunting by lions in Botswana.
Over the 4 years, we observed a total of 74 elephants killed by lions, including eleven elephants in 1993, seventeen in 1994, nineteen in 1995, and 27 in 1996, suggesting an increasing hunting success rate. All the elephants killed, with one exception, were from breeding herds (females and young). The exception was an adult bull, previously wounded by another bull, who remained alive for several days before eventually being killed by the lions. The great majority of the young elephants killed were males, and two-thirds of the kills were of elephants in the age range 4-15 years, with highest hunting success achieved for elephants aged 4-9 years (Table 1). The animals killed were commonly on the periphery of, or straggling behind, the breeding herds, with nearly half killed more than 50 m away from the main herd. Hunts were less commonly attempted on calves which were under the age of 4 years, which remained more closely associated with their mothers. Hunting success for elephants older than 4 years apparently doubled from 33% (n = 9) in 1993 to 62% (n = 61) in 1996. Many attempts to kill adults bulls were made in 1996, when we saw lions attacking elephant bulls almost nightly although only one hunt was successful. All except one of the kills were made at night, and hunts occurred more commonly on dark moon nights than when the moon was bright.
Well, hunting elephants ought to be pretty risky (otherwise, lions would do it all the time, right?). So how many lions got hurt during all these hunts?
There was a close resemblance between the methods that the lions used to hunt elephants and the technique commonly used to hunt buffalo. This tactic included first opportunistically detecting a straggler, or targeting a vulnerable member of the herd, then circling behind the selected prey. The lions then attacked by running in as a group. One or more lions leapt up onto the back or lower flanks and orientated along the spine of the prey. They then bit down on the backbone. The lion positioned highest up the spine would still be behind the ears of the elephant and just far enough back to be out of reach of the extended trunk. The elephant was then pulled down to its knees, not collapsed because of any fatal bite to the spine. Another approach involved a running hunt causing confusion and bunching of the elephant herds. This often resulted in one elephant falling or getting separated. In all cases a rear attack was employed, never a frontal attack. In one notable case, a single male lion ran at nearly full speed into the side of a 6-year-old male calf with sufficient force to collapse the elephant on its side. On only one occasion was a lion injured by an elephant in these hunts. In that case, the elephant collapsed on top of the lion. The resulting injury to the head was therefore recorded as accidental rather than as a result of a counterattack by the elephant.
OK, so the lions mostly limited their hunts to a class of most vulnerable elephants (subadults old enough to be isolated from their mothers, and inattentive to predators -- males amounted to 236 confirmed attempts versus 38 for females!). They adopted a special hunting style that they use for other dangerous large prey animals, attacking from the back by ambush. And during all these hunts (which totaled 74 kills out of 323 attempts) only one lion was confirmed injured. The paper doesn't say how serious the injury was, or if itwas eventually fatal, but elephant-falling-on-lion can't be a good situation.
Now, the relevant measure of risk in this instance is the injury rate (or even better, death rate) per successful kill. Unsuccessful attempts might fail for many reasons, including injury, but none of these unsuccessful attempts satisfy anybody's energetic requirements. So we have one serious injury per 74 kills. There may have been other injuries that weren't major enough to be observed or counted. Limiting to the one that was counted, we have a rate of serious injury of around 1.33 percent per kill; divided among the average number of lions that participated, which isn't specified.
From the elephant perspective, there appears to be a case for strategic indifference of adult males to predation on the younger males:
When these young elephants finished and called out to their families, the lions attacked. There was surprisingly little response from other nearby elephants. Older calves were attacked and killed within 50 m of the drinking bulls. The distress calls of the young elephant and lion growls seldom distracted them from drinking.
Tough to be a young male elephant.
Joubert D. 2006. Hunting behaviour of lions (Panthera leo) on elephants (Loxodonta africana) in the Chobe National Park, Botswana. Afr J Ecol 44:279-281. DOI
Elephant bluffing lions
The coalition of six male lions has struck fear into the big grazers at Exeter over the past few days. As if the four lions killing a Rhino were not enough, a single male (from the coalition) has just killed an adult female Giraffe. Not only is it impressive because a lone lion killed an adult Giraffe, but the kill comes within a day of the other four males making their Rhino Kill. Guests are being treated to two amazingly unique kills within 5 kilometers of each other. The interaction at both of these kills has been spectacular, whether it is Vultures, Hyena or Jackal trying their luck to get an easy meal.
Major Lion Die-Offs Linked to Climate Change
for National Geographic News
June 25, 2008
Droughts and downpours exacerbated by climate change allowed two diseases to converge and wipe out large numbers of African lions in 1994 and 2001, according to a new study.
Lions regularly survive outbreaks of canine distemper virus (CDV) and infestations by a tick-borne blood parasite called Babesia. But both normally occur in isolation.
In 1994 and 2001, however, a "perfect storm" of extreme drought followed by heavy seasonal rains set up the conditions for the two diseases to converge, the study said.
The effect was lethal: The synchronized infections wiped out about a third of the Serengeti lion population in 1994. The nearby Ngorongoro Crater lion population experienced similar losses in 2001.
"It was already well known that die offs can be triggered by droughts and floods," Craig Packer, an ecologist at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, explained in an email from his research site in Tanzania.
"We were able to identify the interacting components of a lethal co-infection that had not previously been considered," he said.
The research is published in today's issue of the journal PLoS ONE.
"Lethal One-Two Punch"
Packer and his colleagues combed through more than 30 years of data on the lion populations to determine the complex combination of factors that caused the mass die offs.
They found that at least five CDV outbreaks swept through the lion populations with no ill effect. The two die offs, which are also tied to CDV outbreaks, were preceded by extreme droughts.
Probing further, the researchers discovered the droughts weakened lion prey, including the Cape buffalo.
When the rains resumed, Babesia-carrying ticks emerged en masse and proliferated in their buffalo hosts. Many of the buffalo died.
The lions feasted on the weakened, parasite-infested buffalo, but the feast left the hunters with unusually high concentrations of Babesia. The subsequent CDV outbreak proved lethal, according to the study.
"CDV is immunosuppressive—like a short, sharp bout of AIDS—thus greatly intensifying the effects of the Babesia," Packer said.
This co-infection, or synchronization of the diseases, caused the mass die offs, Packer and his colleagues concluded.
Sonia Altizer is an ecologist who studies wildlife diseases at the University of Georgia in Athens. She was not involved with this study, which she said is "at the leading edge" of the field.
"[It] lays out mechanistically how a climate anomaly could allow a combination of pathogens to have a lethal one-two punch," she said.
Study author Packer and his colleagues warn that as global climate change continues to produce more extreme weather anomalies, potentially fatal synchronized infections are likely to become more common.
"Many mysterious maladies [such as] colony collapse disorder in honeybees are likely to result from co-infections," Packer noted.
Altizer said the research adds to a growing body of evidence showing how extreme climate events can have major impacts on the spread of infectious diseases.
Since more deadly co-infections are likely to arise, she said researchers need to reconsider how they treat wildlife and humans.
"Understanding the mechanism by which the animals are actually dying or succumbing to disease then changes how you should go about preventing that," she explained.
In the case of the lions, Packer noted, wildlife managers may be able to better protect populations by reducing their tick loads immediately following a drought rather than controlling for CDV.
A female African lion takes a bite out of a Cape buffalo at the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania.
Research that links recent lion die offs to climate change has found that unusual droughts weaken lion prey, such as the Cape buffalo. When rains resume, disease-carrying ticks overwhelm the buffalo, which then pass the disease to the lions.
Weakened by the tick-borne disease, the lions more easily succumb to other diseases, such as canine distemper virus (CDV), for example, in 1994 and 2001.
Lion Prey Preference
|Taipan||Jan 10 2012, 02:41 PM Post #5|
'Supersize' lions roamed Britain
By Natalie Hancock
BBC News, Oxford
Giant lions were roaming around Britain, Europe and North America up to 13,000 years ago, scientists from Oxford University have found.
Remains of giant cats previously discovered were thought to be a species of jaguar or tiger but after DNA analysis they were proved to be lions.
They were 25% bigger than the species of African lion living today, and had longer legs to chase their prey.
They would have lived in icy tundra with mammoth and sabretooth tigers.
It is thought these animals would hunt over longer distances, and their longer legs would help them chase down their prey as opposed to the modern-day species which tends to ambush its victims.
The Oxford team analysed DNA from fossils and other remains gathered from Germany to Siberia, and Alaska to Wyoming.
Dr Ross Barnett, who conducted the research at Oxford University's department of Zoology, said: "These ancient lions were like a super-sized version of today's lions and, in the Americas, with longer legs adapted for endurance running.
"What our genetic evidence shows is that these ancient extinct lions and the lions of today were very closely related.
"Cave art also suggests that they formed prides, although the males in the pictures would not have had manes and they are depicted very realistically."
Lions appear to have been very important to early man with many depictions of them in their cave paintings, as in seen in the pre-historic cave complex at Chauvet in France.
Other archaeological finds in Germany include figurines which are half man, half lion, leading to the theory that lions may even have been worshipped by ancient humans.
The team found that these remains from the Pleistocene Epoch (1.8 million years ago to 10,000 years ago) could be divided into two groups: the American Lion which lived in North America, and the Cave Lion which lived in northern Europe, Russia, Alaska and the Yukon.
These ancient cats would have lived in an environment that was more like an icy tundra and would have shared their habitat with herds of other large animals such as mammoth, woolly rhino, sabre tooth tigers and giant deer.
About 13,000 years ago these species died out in a mass extinction. Figuring out the reason behind this, Dr Barnett said, was one of the last great scientific mysteries.
He said: "There are a couple of different schools of thought. It could have been climate change or something to do with humans. Humans could have been killing off their prey or killing the lions themselves.
"The extinction is a big question that remains unresolved. More research and more advanced genetic analysis may help answer it."
Lion prides form to win turf wars
Editor, Earth News
The bigger the gang, the more successful the lions are
Lions form prides to defend territory against other lions, not to improve their hunting success, a study reveals.
In doing so, they act much like street gangs, gathering together to protect their turf from interlopers, says a leading lion expert.
The bigger the gang, the more successful the lions are, information that could help conserve wild lions.
The discovery helps explain why lions, uniquely among the cat species, live together in social groups.
Lions stand out amongst all the cat species for their gregarious nature.
Across Africa and Asia, lions form prides of varying sizes comprising one or more males and often numerous females and cubs.
But why they do so has remained a mystery. A long-standing idea is that female lions socialise in order to hunt cooperatively. But despite the common sight of multiple females working together to outflank and bring down large prey, there is no clear link between how many lions hunt together and their hunting success.
Another is that lions gather to protect territory. Indeed, a range of animals from social insects to primates form social groups that defend territories against competitors.
But while there has been anecdotal evidence that bigger groups have a competitive advantage, the idea has never been rigorously tested over long periods of time.
That has now changed with a study analysing the behaviour of 46 lion prides living in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania.
Conducted by ecologists Anna Mosser and Craig Packer of the University of Minnesota in St Paul, US, the study collated data about the prides' behaviour over 38 years, including where they ranged, their composition and how they interacted.
Mosser's and Packer's key finding was that competition between lion prides significantly affects the mortality and reproductive success of female lions, they report in the journal Animal Behaviour.
Male lions kill females to influence the balance of power
Larger prides with more adult females not only produced more cubs, as might be expected, but the females within these prides were less likely to be wounded or killed by other lions.
Prides with more females were also more likely to gain control of areas disputed with neighbouring prides, and those prides that recruited lone females improved the quality of their territory.
"The most important way to think about this is that lion prides are like street gangs," says Packer.
"They compete for turf. The bigger the gang, the more successful it is at controlling the best areas. The main difference from humans is that these are gangs of female lions."
Best 'real estate'
Both researchers think the study, alongside other work they have yet to publish, finally confirms that bigger prides form to defend territory.
"The advantage of large group size for group-territorial animals has been suspected for a long time, but had never been proven with data," says Mosser. "With this paper, we were able to do just that because of the many groups studied over a long period."
One surprise revealed by the research is that male lions turn out to play a much bigger role in how prides interact than expected.
"Males turn out to be playing a greater role than we realised," says Packer. "Males attack females from neighbouring prides, likely altering the balance of power in favour of 'their' females."
The territorial advantages gained by coming together into larger social groups would have driven the evolution of social behaviour in lions, say the researchers.
"It also confirms a pattern that is probably applicable for many species, including group-territorial ants, birds, and chimpanzees," says Mosser, who is now at The Jane Goodhall Institute, in Kigoma, Tanzania.
Such insights will help with the conservation of lions, the numbers of which are suspected to have fallen by at least a third across Africa over the past two decades.
The research shows that "the lions are competing for relatively scarce 'hotspots' of high value real estate," says Packer.
So "lion numbers are ultimately limited by the number of hotspots that are safely inside national parks".
West and Central African Lions Are Genetically Different from Those in East and Southern Africa
ScienceDaily (Apr. 4, 2011) — Researchers from the Institute of Environmental Sciences and the Leiden Institute of Biology in the Netherlands have recently published the findings of their genetic research on lions, which reveals a remarkable difference between lions in West and Central Africa and lions in East and southern Africa.
The study, from which the results were published in the Journal of Biogeography, was conducted by a consortium of researchers from a number of different universities.
The outcome of their research suggests that lions from West and Central Africa are genetically different from lions in East and southern Africa. The researchers analysed a region on the mitochondrial DNA of lions from all over Africa and from India, including sequences from extinct lions such as the Atlas lions in Morocco. Surprisingly, lions from West and Central Africa seemed to be more related to lions from the Asiatic subspecies than to their counterparts in East and southern Africa.
Previous research has already suggested that lions in West and Central Africa are smaller in size and weight, have smaller manes, live in smaller groups, eat smaller prey and may also differ in the shape of their skull, compared to their counterparts in East and southern Africa. However, this research was not backed by conclusive scientific evidence. The present research findings show that the difference is also reflected in the genetic makeup of the lions.
Barriers for dispersal
The distinction between lions from West and Central Africa and individuals from East and southern Africa can partially be explained by the location of natural structures that may form barriers for lion dispersal. These structures include the Central African rain forest and the Rift Valley, which stretches from Ethiopia to Tanzania and from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Mozambique. Another aspect explaining the unique genetic position of the West and Central African lion is the climatological history of this part of the continent.
It is hypothesised that a local extinction occurred, following periods of severe drought 40,000 to 8,000 years ago. During this period, lions continuously ranged deep into Asia and it is likely that conditions in the Middle East were still sufficiently favourable to sustain lion populations. The data published in the Journal of Biogeography suggest that West and Central Africa was recolonised by lions from areas close to India, which explains the close genetic relationship between lions from these two areas.
There are thought to be some 1,700 lions left in West and Central Africa, which is less than 10% of the total estimated lion population in Africa. Lions in West and Central Africa are declining and are under severe threat due to the fragmentation or even destruction of their natural savannah habitat, the depletion of prey and retaliatory killing by livestock owners. The West and Central African lion is currently categorised as 'Regionally Endangered', according to IUCN criteria. Recent surveys in a large number of Lion Conservation Units in this region were, in fact, not able to confirm the presence of lions.
Other carnivore species, such as the wild dog and the cheetah, have become almost extinct in the region, with small populations surviving in Niger, Benin and Burkina Faso. These populations also appears to be struggling, suffering primarily from habitat loss and degradation, and conflict with local people.
To save the last remaining large carnivores in this region, a new initiative has been launched: the 'Large Carnivore Initiative for West and Central Africa'. This initiative is supported by a large number of conservation organisations. Insights into the geographic pattern of genetic variation within a species can contribute significantly to the field of wildlife conservation. The patterns described in this publication should have consequences not only for in situ wildlife management, but also for management of zoo populations and captive breeding programmes.
Lions in Pendjari National Park, Benin.
L. D. Bertola, W. F. van Hooft, K. Vrieling, D. R. Uit de Weerd, D. S. York, H. Bauer, H. H. T. Prins, P. J. Funston, H. A. Udo de Haes, H. Leirs, W. A. van Haeringen, E. Sogbohossou, P. N. Tumenta, H. H. de Iongh. Genetic diversity, evolutionary history and implications for conservation of the lion (Panthera leo) in West and Central Africa. Journal of Biogeography, 2011; DOI: [url]10.1111/j.1365-2699.2011.02500.x[/url]
Lions Kill and Go Away, to Kill Again Another Day
Charles Q. Choi, LiveScience Contributor
Date: 08 August 2011 Time: 07:58 AM
Lions apparently flee the scenes of their crimes, withdrawing after successful kills while other potential prey are still on high alert, researchers have found by using satellites to track some of the deadly African cats.
This research into the minds of lions sheds light on why and when large predators move on from one hunting ground to the next, a crucial decision when the stakes are survival or starvation. In turn, such insights could lead to better designs of protected areas for African lions, whose numbers have shrunk by half in 30 years.
Deciphering the strategies of predators is difficult enough when they are captive, not to mention when they are free to range far in the wild.
"Such fieldwork is time-consuming, difficult and potentially dangerous," said researcher Marion Valeix, an ecologist at the University of Oxford in England and the French National Center for Scientific Research.
Scientists have had two ideas regarding why large mammalian carnivores depart a hunting ground. In the "unsuccessful hunt" hypothesis, predators hunt everything they can and then move on. In the alternate "patch disturbance" hypothesis, hunters leave after a successful kill to give remaining prey time to lower their guard — allowing the predators to return and blindside them. [Lions Attack Humans When Full Moon Wanes]
To see which strategy lions adopted, researchers followed the movements of eight African lions wearing global positioning system collars and ranging over about 2,700 square miles (7,000 square kilometers) in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.
Scientists matched the whereabouts of these big cats with 164 lion kills tracked down between 2005 and 2007. They found that after 87 percent of kills, the lions traveled at least three miles (five kilometers) or more, suggesting they were departing the scenes of their crimes.
"We showed the need for these animals to rotate their hunting between several hunting grounds — for example, waterholes in the Hwange ecosystem," Valeix told LiveScience. "This has implications regarding the configuration and size of lion home range and needs to be taken into account in the design of small conservation reserves."
Most studies focusing on large carnivores have considered them and large herbivores to be rather static variables.
"The most important implication of our findings is that they make a strong case for the crucial need to consider the behavior of large carnivores and large herbivores in a dynamic framework — lions continuously adjust to the behavior of their prey, which continuously adjust to the whereabouts of their predators."
In the future, the scientists plan to study both the behavior of predator and prey at the same time. They detailed their new findings in the August issue of the journal American Naturalist.
|Taipan||Jan 14 2012, 12:58 PM Post #6|
"Schaller describes several lion fights he and associates witnessed while doing field research nearby that did not turn out so well for the losers.
To quote extensively from "The Serengeti Lion" (a National Book Award Winner when first published in 1972 and still a fine read) ... "Lions showed little restraint when biting each other and some wounds caused rapid death. Several cubs were bitten to death. One of the Seronera males died after a fight. One nomadic male was killed presumably by another male in a brief but violent battle: the nomad had been bitten thrrough the nape, breaking his neck ... On March 16 ... G. Dove watched a lioness walk, then crawl toward a male on a kill near Lake Lagaja. Suddenly he attacked her, and, after a brief flurry, she collapsed, quivered, and lay still. She had been bitten through the back of the neck ... Schenkel watched a male pursue a lioness, bite her in the lower back and shake her, thereby breaking her vertebral column in two places. The lioness was paralzyed in her hind quarters and died about 20 minutes later."
|Taipan||Feb 18 2012, 11:11 PM Post #7|
Lion Predation on Black Rhinoceros
Source : http://www.rhinoresourcecenter.com/pdf_files/117/1175858056.pdf
|firefly||Feb 19 2012, 11:40 AM Post #8|
A desperate solution for the Asiatic lion desperate situation, would be to move some lions from the Gir Forest, to other regions ( on which they were found before), with different climates and hope that will trigger different genes to develop.
It´s also important, to draw a genome map of the present Asiatic lion population and compare all the results ( to know which individuals should be used in the new populations).
The male/female genetic dynamics interference in the lion clans, should also be analyzed. Maybe all the possible genetic combinations, should be artificially optimized.
The present Gir population and it´s management, aren´t enough to guarantee a good future for the Asiatic lion population. Unfortunately, certain authorities aren´t interested in catching the animals in excess and start a new strategy plan, in other places... Though I still hope that will change.
Edited by firefly, Feb 19 2012, 11:41 AM.
|Megafelis Fatalis||Mar 11 2012, 04:15 AM Post #9|
calculation of measures of the African lion with
maximum skull length found in: [link]
many webpages of Internet mark the height the shoulder of the lion in 120 cm, with the calculation made in the image, an animal of that height would have a skull of 47,27 cm. Would be of the same size that the American lion...
I doubt it.
Sergio De La Rosa
|221Extra||Sep 4 2012, 11:30 PM Post #10|
African Lion Weights:
African Lion Prey:
From "Wild Cats of the World"
And my favorite pic ever of a Lion:
EDIT: Photobucket sucks ass!
Edited by 221Extra, Sep 4 2012, 11:34 PM.
|Taipan||Oct 12 2012, 04:17 PM Post #11|
DNA Confirms Genetically Distinct Lion Population for Ethiopia
ScienceDaily (Oct. 11, 2012) — A team of international researchers has provided the first comprehensive DNA evidence that the Addis Ababa lion in Ethiopia is genetically unique and is urging immediate conservation action to preserve this vulnerable lion population.
While it has long been noted that some lions in Ethiopia have a large, dark mane, extending from the head, neck and chest to the belly, as well as being smaller and more compact than other lions, it was not known until now if these lions represent a genetically distinct population.
The team of researchers, led by the University of York, UK, and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany, has shown that captive lions at the Addis Ababa Zoo in Ethiopia are, in fact, genetically distinct from all lion populations for which comparative data exists, both in Africa and Asia.
The researchers compared DNA samples from 15 Addis Ababa Zoo lions (eight males and seven females) to lion breeds in the wild. The results of the study, which also involved researchers from Leipzig Zoo and the Universities of Durham and Oxford, UK, are published in the European Journal of Wildlife Research.
Principal Investigator Professor Michi Hofreiter, of the Department of Biology at the University of York, said: "To our knowledge, the males at Addis Ababa Zoo are the last existing lions to possess this distinctive mane. Both microsatellite and mitochondrial DNA data suggest the zoo lions are genetically distinct from all existing lion populations for which comparative data exist.
"We therefore believe the Addis Ababa lions should be treated as a distinct conservation management unit and are urging immediate conservation actions, including a captive breeding programme, to preserve this unique lion population."
The lion (Panthera leo) is the principal terrestrial predator in Africa and therefore a key species of the savannah ecosystem. Lion numbers are in serious decline and two significant populations of lion -- the North African Barbary lions and the South African Cape lions have already become extinct in the wild.
One of the regions with a declining lion population is Ethiopia. In addition to a few hundred wild lions scattered throughout the country, 20 lions are kept in the Addis Ababa Zoo. These lions belonged to the collection of the late emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie. He established the zoo in 1948 and the seven founder lions (five males and two females) are claimed to have been captured in south-western Ethiopia, although their geographical origin is controversial.
In their study, the team of researchers recommend establishing a captive breeding programme as a first step towards conserving this unique lion population.
Lead author Susann Bruche, now with Imperial College London, but who conducted the research with the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, said: "A great amount of genetic diversity in lions has most likely already been lost, largely due to human influences. Every effort should be made to preserve as much of the lion's genetic heritage as possible. We hope field surveys will identify wild relatives of the unique Addis Ababa Zoo lions in the future, but conserving the captive population is a crucial first step. Our results show that these zoo lions harbour sufficient genetic diversity to warrant a captive breeding programme."
It has previously been suggested that no lions comparable to those at Addis Ababa Zoo still exist in the wild, mainly due to hunting for their mane. However, the researchers say that according to the Ethiopian authorities, lions with a similar appearance to those at Addis Ababa Zoo still exist in the east and north-east of the country, notably in the Babille Elephant Sanctuary near Harar and southwards to Hararghe. These regions, the researchers say, should be prioritised for field surveys.
Professor Hofreiter said: "A key question is which wild population did the zoo lions originate from and whether this wild population still exists; this would obviously make it a priority for conservation. What is clear is that these lions did not originate in the zoo, but come from somewhere in the wild -- but not from any of the populations for which comparative data is available."
A group of lions at the Addis Ababa Zoo in Ethiopia have dark manes that cover their chest and belly.
Susann Bruche, Markus Gusset, Sebastian Lippold, Ross Barnett, Klaus Eulenberger, Jörg Junhold, Carlos A. Driscoll, Michael Hofreiter. A genetically distinct lion (Panthera leo) population from Ethiopia. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 2012; DOI: 10.1007/s10344-012-0668-5
|Bigcat||Feb 5 2013, 09:35 PM Post #12|
New Study Reveals Lions Are Rapidly Losing Ground In Africa
Suitable Lion Habitat Reduced by 75% and Wild Lion Population Under Decline
New York, NY – A new study released this week confirms that lions are rapidly and literally losing ground across Africa’s once-thriving savannahs due to burgeoning human population growth and subsequent, massive land-use conversion. Representing the most comprehensive assessment of the state and vitality of African savannah habitat to date, the report maintains that the lion has lost 75% of its original natural habitat in Africa – a reduction that has devastated lion populations across the continent.
Co-authored by Panthera’s Lion Program Survey Coordinator, Dr. Philipp Henschel, and a team of researchers coordinated by Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, this report, entitled The size of savannah Africa: A lion’s (Panthera leo) view, was published online this week in the journal ‘Biodiversity and Conservation.’
Using Google Earth’s high-resolution satellite imagery, the study examined savannah habitat across Africa, which comprises the majority of the lion’s current range, and also analyzed human population density data to identify areas of suitable habitat currently occupied by lions. Incredibly, the analysis identified only 67 isolated regions across the continent where significant lion populations may persist. Of these areas, just 15 were estimated to maintain a population of at least 500 lions.
“The reality is that from an original area a third larger than the continental United States, only 25% remains,” explained Stuart Pimm, co-author and Doris Duke Chair of Conservation at Duke University.
The study also confirms that in West Africa, where the species is classified as Regionally Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, fewer than 500 lions remain, scattered across eight isolated regions.
A resident adult male lion photographed in Benin's Pendjari National Park during Panthera's survey of West Africa's last lion stronghold -- the W-Arly-Pendjari Complex, 2012.
“Lions have been hit hardest in West Africa, where local governments often lack direct incentives to protect them,” Dr. Henschel commented. “While lions generate billions of tourist dollars across Eastern and Southern Africa, spurring governments to invest in their protection, wildlife-based tourism is only slowly developing in West Africa. Currently lions still have little economic value in the region, and West African governments will require significant foreign assistance in stabilizing remaining populations until sustainable local conservation efforts can be developed.”
Luke Dollar, co-author and Grants Program Director of National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative (BCI), which provided partial funding for this work, added, “This research is a major step in helping prioritize funding strategies for saving big cats.”
Earlier this year, Panthera became a scientific and strategic collaborator on the National Geographic Society's Big Cats Initiative (BCI) to jointly address the most serious threats facing big cats in the wild and facilitate the direction of financial support to the most efficient and impactful conservation programs. Since then, with the support of the BCI, Panthera’s Lion Program Survey Coordinator, Dr. Henschel, has conducted a survey of West Africa’s last lion stronghold, the tri-national W-Arly-Pendjari Complex (located in Benin, Burkina Faso, and Niger), whose findings will be soon published.
Panthera also recently assessed the status of lion populations in all critical conservation areas of West Africa, and is currently involved in the development of a lion conservation strategy for the W-Arly-Pendjari Complex.
This study is available to read/download for free here:
|Taipan||Mar 19 2013, 02:36 PM Post #13|
Male Lions Use Ambush Hunting Strategy
Mar. 18, 2013 — It has long been believed that male lions are dependent on females when it comes to hunting. But new evidence suggests that male lions are, in fact, very successful hunters in their own right. A new report from a team including Carnegie's Scott Loarie and Greg Asner shows that male lions use dense savanna vegetation for ambush-style hunting in Africa.
Their work is published in Animal Behavior.
Female lions have long been observed to rely on cooperative strategies to hunt their prey. While some studies demonstrated that male lions are as capable at hunting as females, the males are less likely to cooperate, so there were still questions as to how the males manage to hunt successfully. The possibility that male lions used vegetation for ambushing prey was considered, but it was difficult to study given the logistics and dangers of making observations of lions in densely vegetated portions of the African savanna.
Loarie and Asner, working with Craig Tambling from the University of Pretoria, combined different types of technology to change the game.
First the authors created 3-D maps of the savanna vegetation using laser pulses that sweep across the African plains. They did this using a Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) scanner mounted on the fixed-wing Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) aircraft. They combined these 3-D habitat maps with GPS data on predator-prey interactions from a pride of seven lions in South Africa's Kruger National Park to quantify the lines of sight, or "viewsheds," where lions did their killing in comparison to where they rested.
They found that while a preference for shade caused both male and female lions to rest in areas with dense vegetation and similarly short viewsheds during the day, the real difference between males and females emerged at night. Female lions both rested and hunted under the cover of darkness in areas with large viewsheds. But at night, male lions hunted in the dense vegetation, areas where prey is highly vulnerable, but which researchers rarely explore. The scientific results show that ambushing prey from behind vegetation is linked to hunting success among male lions, despite lacking the cooperative strategies employed by female lions in open grassy savannas.
"By strongly linking male lion hunting behavior to dense vegetation, this study suggests that changes to vegetation structure, such as through fire management, could greatly alter the balance of predators and prey," Loarie said.
The authors emphasized that their findings should be confirmed in other studies throughout Africa's savannas. Nevertheless, these results could have major implications for park management, which is often heavily involved with manipulating vegetation.
"With large mammals increasingly confined to protected areas, understanding how to maintain their habitat to best support their natural behavior is a critical conservation priority," Asner said. This study highlights the rapidly evolving role of high-tech measurements for never-before-undertaken research in geographically complex and often dangerous conditions. Three-dimensional imaging of ecological habitats by the CAO, along with GPS tracking of species inside those habitats, has opened new doors to understand how species interact with one another throughout their native environments, doors that couldn't have been opened without these technological advances.
Scott R. Loarie, Craig J. Tambling, Gregory P. Asner. Lion hunting behaviour and vegetation structure in an African savanna. Animal Behaviour, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2013.01.018
|SpaceCoyote||Mar 27 2013, 02:14 AM Post #14|
These, er, lions-of-sight showed that males and females hunt in different types of terrain. On average, the females dispatch their prey at places where they can see for 8.6 metres around them. Males, however, kill at sites with thicker cover, where they can only see for 3.4 metres around. So while females cooperate to chase prey across open terrain, males are more likely to be ambush-hunters, launching attacks from long grass or dense shrubs.
These results help to explain why male and female lions are equally matched killers. Males were traditionally thought to be less successful than females, but recent studies put both sexes on a par with each other. But why? How do males succeed as solo operators when the females can rely on teamwork?
In 2001, Paul Funston, a lion specialist at the Tshwane University of Technology, reported one possible reason: They attack different prey. The females tend to take medium-sized animals like zebra and wildebeest, while the more powerful males tackle big game like buffalo. Funston also found hints that the males are better at catching smaller prey like impala when they hunt among thicker vegetation—something that Asner’s fly-over study has now confirmed.
Asner fully admits that his team only looked at a small number of lions from a narrow corner of the Kruger National Park. “We recommend that these results be viewed more as a case study to motivate larger-scale studies rather than as a broad generalization of lion hunting behaviour,” he wrote.
|Kurtz||Apr 14 2013, 08:31 AM Post #15|
The so called "Solo Male lion" if not the strongest, one of the strongest male lion in Sabi Sands. South Africa
The yonger and stronger ON THE LEFT OF THE PIC:
Edited by Kurtz, Apr 14 2013, 07:55 PM.
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