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Afrikaans name: Leeu

Two male Lions in Kruger National Park

A magnificent male Lion

Photo © Steven Herbert

Panthera leo

Interesting facts about Lions

The lion is undoubtedly the 'king' of the Big 5 (let alone the jungle). It is a major attraction in many of South Africa's game reserves.

Male lions can weigh 250 kg. Females are smaller and weigh up to 180 kg. There is a record of a male lion weighing 313 kg being shot near Hectorspruit.

Lions can live for over 10 years in the wild but survive much longer in captivity. Injuries received while hunting and fighting between males has a big impact on their lifespan.

Male lions have a mane and apparently females tend to favour males with darker, fuller manes. The mane also makes the lion appear bigger and more intimidating when confronting other lions or enemies such as the Spotted Hyena.

Lions normally live in social groups called prides. A pride may consist of a few males, related females and their cubs. Lions do sometimes live singly or in pairs. A pride is very territorial and the job of the male is to defend and mark the territory.

A female lion is called a lioness. Lionesses do most of the hunting in the pride, normally working together to bring down their selected prey.

Lions hunt a range of species including Buffalo, Burchell's Zebra, wildebeest and many other antelope. They are mainly active at night.


Photo © Steven Herbert

Above - A male lion with a magnificent mane

Below - A lioness


Photo © Steven Herbert


References and further reading

An Introduction to the Larger Mammals of Southern Africa - Author: Joanna Dalton - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 128

Animals of the Kruger National Park - Author: G. de Graaff - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 32

Chris and Tilde Stuart's Field Guide to the Mammals of Southern Africa - Author: Chris and Tilde Stuart - Year Published: 1988 - Page: 158

Field Guide to the Cradle of Humankind - Author: B. Hilton-Barber & Prof. L. R. Berger - Year Published: 2004 - Page: 144

Field Guide to the Mammals of the Kruger National Park - Author: U. de V. Pienaar et al. - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 92

go! - Issue 156 - Author: - Year Published: 2019 - Page: 27

Kruger National Park Questions and Answers - Author: P.F. Fourie - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 221

Kruger National Park, Visitor's Map - Author: - Year Published: 1996 - Page: 3

Land Mammals of Southern Africa - A field guide - Author: Reay HN Smithers - Year Published: 1986 - Page: 100

Mammals of Southern Africa - Author: Burger Cillier - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 51

Mammals of the Kruger and other National Parks - Author: The National Parks Board - Year Published: 1980 - Page: 20

Reader's Digest Illustrated Guide to Southern Africa - 4th edition - Author: - Year Published: 1986 - Page: 260

Reader's Digest Illustrated Guide to the Game Parks and Nature Reserves of Southern Africa - 2nd edi - Author: Editor - Alan Duggan - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 414

Signs of the Wild - Author: Clive Walker - Year Published: 1986 - Page: 97

Wild Issue 21 - Author: - Year Published: 2012 - Page: 58

Wild Issue 34 - Author: - Year Published: 2016 - Page: 30

List of South African Mammals

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