Male lions are skilled and powerful hunters, but bringing home the bacon remains women’s work in the world of the lion pride.
There are several reasons why this is the case.
The main role of the male lion is to defend his pride and their territory at all costs. To help him defend himself against the teeth and claws of would-be usurpers, the male lion has developed a thick mane to protect the vital areas around his head and neck.
As attractive as this conspicuous mass of mane hair is, it puts him at a disadvantage when it comes to camouflage. The females are more adept at concealing themselves, stalking and bringing prey down as a team.
Another reason why male lions avoid taking part in the hunt is because of the risk of injury. A seriously injured lion risks his lands and harem being taken over by another dominant individual.
It’s well-known that a new pride leader will instantly set about slaughtering any cubs sired by his predecessor. This is a chance the lionesses are not prepared to take.
When male lions reach maturity, they are forced out of the pride by the dominant male and must learn to fend for themselves. On their own, or in small coalitions, they learn the art of scavenging from smaller predators and hone their hunting skills.
Fortunately, the mane of the youngster is not fully developed at this stage, making it a little easier to sneak up on an unsuspecting meal.
Only the fittest, fastest and strongest survive to run their own prides and it is this hard experience that makes the male lion the supreme hunter that he can be.
Some animals like buffalo and giraffe are simply too large for the lionesses to bring down on their own, particularly in a small pride, and in these cases the male will step in.
Unable to camouflage himself efficiently, he will present himself to the target or charge at it, assisted by the females.
These large animals often defend themselves against attack and a game of cat and mouse usually ensues until one of the animals makes a mistake. At the first opportunity, the male lion uses his enormous strength to bring the prey down and deliver the coup de grace.
While the king is out patrolling his boundaries, and checking for interlopers, he does not have the benefit of females to hunt for him. At these times, he is forced to hunt for himself and does so with great success.
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