Male lions have a reputation for their chauvinistic ways and are well known for their habit of lazing around all day until the female members of the pride deliver their dinner, but these large cats are not as lazy as they seem.For starters, making it to adulthood as a male lion is no mean feat, with only one in eight male lion cubs going the distance.
After spending their first two years in the loving embrace of the pride, sexually mature males are booted out of the pride to fend for themselves. Not only does this mean catching and killing their own meals and escaping detection by hunters but, unless they somehow remain on neutral ground, they are sure to eventually cross paths with a dominant territorial lion from another pride who will kill them given half a chance.
If they somehow survive all of this and manage to overpower another (older and more experienced) lion and inherit his harem, they then have to set about killing all the existing cubs. At the same time, it’s up to the males to defend their new pride from other young upstarts, maintain the boundaries of their territory by scent marking, and impregnate all the females in order to stamp their genetics on the line. Successfully wooing a lioness takes great determination and courage – especially after you have murdered her offspring.
After all this they surely deserve their retirement to the perceived life of feline luxury that we see them enjoying during our safari game drives. However, studies conducted in the Kruger National Park from 2015 to 2017 have let the cat out of the bag when it comes to the lazy life of the male lion.
The art of deception
Making use of 3D technology, aerial photography and tracking devices fitted to 2 male and 5 female lions in the Satara region of the park, conservationists were able to track where and when animals of both sexes were most active.
The results were startling and revealed that the males hunted and killed prey at least as often as the females and were just as active as their mates during the dark hours – when most of us observers are comfortably snoozing in our luxury safari tents or lodges!
What’s more, these studies show that male lions go big when it comes to bringing down game – typically hauling their 250kg bodies through dense thickets to catch their next meal, while the lighter, sleeker females take the easy way out on the flat open savannah. This means that the males put in much more effort for the same result.
So… Do you still think male lions are lazy?