Living in the grasslands, scrub, and open woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa, lions persist in a handful of countries across southeastern Africa. Tanzania’s lion population is, by far, the largest in Africa.
Serengeti National Park – at 5,700 square miles – is perhaps the world’s greatest lion sanctuary with some 3,000 lions. The simple truth is that if you want to see lions, Serengeti National Park is the place to be. Nowhere else in Africa supports quite such a concentrated abundance of hoofed meat, amid such open landscape – therefore the Serengeti is a glorious place for lions and an ideal site for a safari.
They say that cats have nine lives, but they don’t say that about the Serengeti lion. Life is hard and precarious on this unforgiving landscape. For the greatest of African predators as well as for their prey, life spans tend to be short, more often terminating abruptly than in graceful decline. An adult male lion, if he’s lucky and tough, might reach the advanced age of 12. Adult females can live longer, even to 19.
Unlike other cats, lions are very social animals. They live in groups called prides or coalitions. An intricate balance of evolutionary costs and benefits determines the size of a lion family unit – namely the availability of food and water. In well-placed areas of Serengeti, we’ve seen prides of over 30 lions. Prides usually consists of up to three males, a dozen related females and their young.
Prides require territory to flourish and it’s the job of the males to establish and defend their pride’s territory. A large pride may control a territory of 250 sq. km (100 sq. mi.). Prides communicate a lot – there is nothing more exciting that the roar of a Serengeti lion, heard up to 8 km away.
Lions work as a team to survive. The females are the primary hunters, being more agile and smaller than males. Witnessing a lion pride on the hunt is a rare and exciting show of nature’s wonder.
After a successful hunt, the pride shares the meal in a very distinct pecking order. It’s the males that eat first (even though they rarely helped in the hunt). Then it’s the lioness’s turn, followed by the cubs. We regularly encounter lions enjoying a meal – the sights and sounds are amazing.
What we see the most though, is lions sleeping. They are lazy cats, spending up to 20 hours a day sleeping. They lay on their backs and snooze, oblivious to our viewing. Serengeti’s lions are a sight to behold – we’ve seen dozens of lions in a single day on safari. Always mystical, always incredible, the lions await your visit. Answer the lion’s call!
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