Spotting lions on safari will definitely be one of the highlights of any traveler’s trip to East Africa. Known as “the king of the jungle”, these majestic animals have always been symbols of strength, courage and power. Below, we break down some interesting facts about lions and bust some popular myths so that you are equipped with lion knowledge before your next safari adventure!
1. Lions are the only social big cats and live in groups called prides. These family units can number between two and 40 lions and include up to four males, a dozen females and cubs. While many lionesses – or females – typically remain in the pride as they age, young males leave the pride to establish themselves in another pride. The pride structure is dominated by lionesses who lead the hunt for prey. Although males hunt, most of their responsibilities involve defending the pride’s territory. Even though it is the lionesses who hunt the most, it is the adult males who will eat first!
2. Although they are known as “the king of the jungle”, lions don’t actually live in the jungle! Instead, they spend their lives in the grasslands and plains of Africa. The nickname ultimately comes from the majestic and powerful nature of lions.
3. Serengeti National Park is believed to be home to the largest population of lions. More than 3,000 lions live within the park boundaries. In East Africa, Tanzania and Kenya are the best places to see wild lions, and significant populations can also be found in Botswana, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
4. The strength and power of a lion is incredible; they can run up to 50 miles per hour for short distances and jump up to 36 feet. This power is also evident in their roars, which are used to alert the pride of danger and can be heard five miles away!
5. Leos spend between 16 and 20 hours a day relaxing in the shade and conserving their energy. Most hunting takes place at night, which gives them an element of surprise when attacking their prey. Their impressive night vision helps them navigate at night, as they are nearly six times more sensitive to light than humans!