Appreciation for Male Lions

Reply

Dec 17th, 2005, 03:36 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,715
Appreciation for Male Lions

It is clear that almost everyone loves to see male lions and has the repect for them as the 'king', however, there is a completely false impression out there that they live the easy, care free life -- basically living off the work of the lionesses. It drives me crazy that I still hear this kind of commentary on wildlife shows and that many guides still impart this kind of out dated information to guests.

Take a look at the 'pampered' life of the male. At around 2 1/2, still an adolecent you are thrown out of your family. You also don't have a territory, instead you have to wander amongst others lands at great risk and find enough food to grow into a hopeful challenger one day. If you do well and have a good coalition of males, at around 5 you will get to challenge some dominant males for their pride. To succeed you probably have to fight a huge battle and most likely you have been taking little beatings along the way before you can win such a fight.

Then the great life of the pride leader starts -- right. Imagine that everyday a formidable intruder may try and break in your house, and they are not coming for your t.v. and computer, they are coming to try and kill you, kill your offspring and to take your adult family. Every day you have to patrol your grounds prepared to defend it at risk of life. Typically this lasts for 2 years (4 years if you have a big coalition), long enough to cycle through one round of cubs. If a second round of cubs does occur they will likely be killed by the males who are about to take everything from you. Now at just 7 or 8 years old younger lions come and challenge. When you lose you may well die. You may well live too but now you are already past your prime, losing weight, and back to living the nomadic life of no territory and no females to help with hunting. By 10 you are probably done.

Just something to keep in mind the next time you are watching a t.v. documentary or on safari and see the males show up after the females make the kill and assert their dominance to eat first. Maybe they are not quite the lazy, free loading, pampered cats that many make them out to be. And considering that many say the males don't hunt it is pretty amazing that they can survive for 4-6 years without a pride of females.
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 17th, 2005, 04:06 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 304
Hi PB,

Well put. I've got quite a few tapes about Africa, lions, etc, and have one that actually shows a group of lionesses having a tough time with a Cape buffalo until the male comes in and knocks him over. Another where a large number of hyenas are harassing some lionesses until the male comes running in and scatters them, and then takes off after the alpha hyena, amazingly chasing her for a quarter mile or so, and finally catching up to her, pinning her with his huge body, and killing her with a powerful bite to the throat. As you point out, they also do their part to increase the size of the pride, and then protect their cubs from predators. Yep, the king gets clobbered, often depicted as a lazy do-nothing, who unfairly insists on eating first. Seems the voices on the tapes fail to point out that the lionesses will usually eat to their fill before a cub is allowed to eat. Cubs eat last. Jack
wjsonl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 18th, 2005, 02:59 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 524
guys I agree 100% with u. It is most difficult to be a male lion,it's crazy when documentaries say a male does not hunt, even if he is on top of the food chain ecosystem of africa. I feel without the male the major hunts of the lioness during the dry season when the game is scarce would fail as they have to resort to hunting cape buffalo and other bigger herbivores and it takes the male body weight of the lion to bring such bigger prey down. I am the biggest fan of these male lions, nice to know somebody else also values them
sonali74 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 18th, 2005, 03:54 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 304
Sonali,

Being from India you may already know of Jim Corbett, a man who hunted down and killed many man-eating tigers that were terrorizing the Kumaon region of India back in the 1930's. He was a great hunter but also a great conservationist at the same time. In fact, India's first tiger reserve was named in his honor. He would not accept compensation for the service he provided the country.

I had read about Corbett sometime in the past, and discovered from the Jim Corbett Foundation that he was buried in Africa, at the same tiny Anglican cemetery as Robert Baden-Powell, the man who started the Boy Scouts. The Foundation told me that the cemetery was not too far from Nairobi, and that most guides would know where it was located. So I decided to try to go by there if it could be fit into our itinerary. The cemetery was in a little town which happened to be on our way back to Nairobi, a town called Nyeri, Kenya. We stopped at the cemetery and paid our respects to the two great men who amazingly happened to retire in the same little town in Kenya and ended up being buried in the same tiny cemetery.

National Geographic made a movie about Jim Corbett called "Man-Eaters of India."

Have a great day. Jack
wjsonl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 18th, 2005, 04:18 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,182
PB, nice post but I suspect you're preaching to the converted here, so to speak. Most of us regulars here are sufficiently obsessed with Africa to have really boned up on the wildlife not to mention that not all wildlife documentaries are as inaccurate as the ones you describe.

Certainly, I would not wish to be the king of the pride!

Kavey is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 18th, 2005, 05:32 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 524
Jack, it's great that u have visited the grave of jim corbett, I really admire him. Do u like to read??? He has written excellent books,The maneaters of kumaon,the maneating leopard of rudraprayag, the temple tiger and many more, in these books he writes about all his experiences in the indian jungle.If u are interested there is another author by the name of kenneth anderson, who also has a lot of books regarding his exploits in shooting maneaters in southern india. Where are u from??? Since u are soo interested in wildlife, u must have been to india and to our wildlife parks. If not I strongly recommend it and fast as the tiger population is being poached.It's so depressing that after so much effort the tigers are still being poached.Kanha park in madhyapradesh is the best to spot tigers at present. I actually stay in a city called ahmedabad, the asiatic lions scantuary is very close to my home city. We have about 300-350 wild lions in our scantuary but they are spread over a larger area compared to africa and the spotting is not so good as the area is full of woods and bushes,unlike the savannnah in africa.If u need any help on India let me know,Sonali
sonali74 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 18th, 2005, 05:52 AM
  #7
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 304
Sonali,

I've read his book "Man-eaters of Kumaon." Fascinating. I also have the NG tape I mentioned above.

I'm from Austin, Texas, USA. Never been to India, but maybe someday. First, though, I've gotta get over this safaraholism!
wjsonl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 18th, 2005, 08:09 AM
  #8
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,715
Thanks all for taking time to read my post and add to it. I also hope to one day go to see the tigers and lions of India.

Kavey: I suppose you are right that mostly regulars who already know better are the people who will tend to take the time to read such a thread. However, what lead to me posting this was a photo caption in the gallery I looked at yesterday in the "Wildlife Photos that tell a story" thread -- and it was clear that this photographers guide did not do a good job of teaching.

The caption contained:
They generally seem to have it easy compared to the females because they do not need to hunt. Food is always hunted by the females, but the males always get to eat first. So all the male lions really do is defend their pride and mate with the gals. With quite a relaxing lifestyle, this male lion appears to stroll casually through the grasslands without a care...
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 18th, 2005, 08:30 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,182
Tsk tsk

I think the problem is that some of the guides who actually know better will jokingly talk about the women providing the food/ doing all the work just like humans and this humourous inaccuracy gets taken onboard as fact...

Kavey is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 18th, 2005, 08:31 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,182
And of course, some guides and authors just don't bother to find out the facts in the first place...
Kavey is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 18th, 2005, 09:00 AM
  #11
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Thanks Predator for the lion information and reminding us of reality out in the bush. On a broader scale daily life is quite grueling for most species including a whole lot of humans for much of our existence and for many today. How lucky some of us are, and I include myself.
atravelynn is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 18th, 2005, 09:15 AM
  #12
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,715
No doubt atravelynn. I think while we all may have some difficulties the fact that most of us are international travelers does not make us typical representatives of the human population -- I know I live a well charmed life and that there are many who have to struggle to survive while my struggle, if it can even be called that, is to thrive.
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 18th, 2005, 08:27 PM
  #13
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 524
In India there are some people who donnot know whether they would have a job/food and money the next day. They take one day at a time, but amazingly there are very happy. I agree that we are very lucky,but have noticed that real happiness comes from being satisfied with what you have. guys any of u need help on India I am around,cheers,Sonali.
sonali74 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 19th, 2005, 01:15 AM
  #14
mv
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 281
Predator

are you aware of any studies comparing Male Lions in Southern and Eastern Africa?
I am under the impression that the Male Lions in Southern Africa do a lot more hunting than those in Eastern Africa.
Especially in Botswana where it is well documented that the Lions hunt Elephant, Hippo, Giraffe and Buffalo to a much greater extent than in other places.
mv is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 19th, 2005, 03:09 AM
  #15
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,479
Since we're on the topic of myth's - what about the giraffe. Can they make any sounds or not? I've always heard/read that they have no sounds but the other day I read that they do.

Thanks for bringing up this subject, PB. Very interesting.
sundowner is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 19th, 2005, 03:45 AM
  #16
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 2
A Fodorite and a photographer friend had alerted me to this posting where PredatorBiologist had seen an image of mine and had a strong issue against what was written under the caption about the lives of the male lion. The image in question is here : http://www.pbase.com/image/53430919 , but I have rewritten my caption since to point the viewers to this forum for more information.

Unfortunately most of us regular travellers such as myself, who do not have the time or resources to conduct an in-depth study of the lives and behaviours of each of the animals we encounter on safari, have to rely on our guides, general books and wildlife documentaries for information. And since these sources are supposed to specialize in their knowledge of these subjects, we do impart an amount of trust on the accuracy of their information. But it has become clearer to me that these sources are not always reliable. We often do not have access to hard research facts or scientific data, or ways or methods in which our safari guides have been trained and assesssed on their knowledge, to form accurate jdgement about the information we receive. Sometimes TV documentary channels can't keep up with the new findings that scientists and biologists discover - a new finding may have been announced on TIME mag, but in the same week you be watching an already outdated documentary.

Some travel guidebooks do not have comprehensive information, and I also have encountered discrepancies in the information given between books and tour guides. The problem is that there is no one single authority on these subjects and sometimes research & data can be skewed to support a theory or hypothesis, or for the amusement of a tour guide who wishes to appear all-knowing! So my conclusion is to keep an open mind because there is always more than one view of a subject, be it on diet, medical health, animal behaviour, art, fashion or even the best toilet cleaners!

And thanks to PredatorBiologist for enlightening us on the lives of the male lion. It illustrates to us the complexities and the constant struggle for survival, even among those that are at the top of the heriarchy or food chain.

(Discalimer: I am not responsible for anything that you WANT to believe.)

Just an enthusiastic photographer,
Cecilia

http://www.pbase.com/cecilialim/animals
cenix is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 19th, 2005, 07:02 AM
  #17
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,715
Cecilia: thanks for your response and referencing this thread with your picture. I did not post my lion comments on your thread because I did not want to detract from your wonderful photos or sidetrack that discussion and as you point out the information you used is out there in numerous formats which is why I wanted to start this thread -- because those who have the job of imparting this kind of information need to keep up and move past outdated understandings. As you point out things are often changing in wildlife biology but this one should not be rocket science for those who are in the field every day.

MV: no doubt much of the males don't hunt and live the easy life way of thinking came out of east Africa where the best early studies took place. A great laypersons read that points out some of these misperceptions is The Lions of Savuti: Hunting with the Moon written by the Joubert's of National Geographic film fame.

As you point out there are different cultures in lion prides just as we have different cultures. I think most of the cultural variation is due to habitat type and prey availability, which is why East vs. South seems to be magnified. In general animals become larger as you move toward the poles within their range. Lions in Botswana definitely tend to be bigger than in east Africa. This larger size in conjunction with ample amounts of larger herbivores has lead to the development of hunting cultures that take advantage of the bigger prey animals. Some prides tend to only hunt at night, others prefer daytime, there is all kinds of cultural variation and this can skew understanding when only one study is considered.

Lions are the only cats with a very pronounced sexual dimorphism -- meaning one sex (males in this case) is significantly larger than the other (females), about 35% bigger. This no doubt evolved with the pride system as males must be able to dominate the females when they take over the pride or the whole breeding/family system would collapse.

The downside for the males is with conspicuous size and the showy mane it puts them at a disadvantage for open land stealthy hunting. Thus, in open habitats they are usually going to be less successful in catching fast prey species. This is why in the more famous east African areas they are unlikely to be seen hunting. In areas where power and strength are the keys to bringing down bigger prey items the males can be more successful. Females still often do the job on their own though, using their numbers.

Of course, as I posted in my original post if you do any math there are a lot of years where the males have to be getting their own food. No doubt they are great scavengers and probably get much food from hyena and cheetah kills, but they must hunt too. I think most studies focus on the prides and nomads are more difficult to study and thus this part of life is often not emphasized.

Another great myth -- the hyenas scavenge all their food from the lions and the other great hunters when in fact it is now believed that it is far more common for lions to take from hyenas. In fact, studies show that male lions respond to hyena feeding calls at a rate equal to hyenas themselves. But this could be a whole other topic.
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 19th, 2005, 07:20 AM
  #18
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 304
Hi PB,

You mention the Joubert's. I believe they are the photographers who shot the lion scenes I described above. I have a great deal of admiration for the Joubert's, a husband/wife team who left good "city jobs" to devote their lives to the up-close-and-personal filming of African animals, primarily lions, I believe. And not only do they do it, but they do it at all hours of the night. The animals determine their working hours. They are relentless, and I mean that in a very positive sense.

Jack
wjsonl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 19th, 2005, 07:37 AM
  #19
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,715
wjsonl: You are correct. Eternal Enemies: Lions and Hyenas is the film you were describing with the incredible male chase and kill of the hyena clan matriarch.

The Joubert's films are incredible and by bringing observation through the night they helped bring new understanding of both lions and hyenas lives.
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 19th, 2005, 07:44 AM
  #20
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,715
Sundowner: yes, the belief that giraffes make no sounds is a myth.

I have heard them make sounds personally. Text from The Safari Companion: A Guide to Watching African Mammals

"The idea that giraffes are mute is a myth. Though normally silent, calves bleat and make a mewing call, cows seeking lost calves bellow, and courting bulls may emit a raucous cough. Giraffes also give alarm snorts, and moaning, snoring, hissing, and flutelike sounds have been reported."
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Reply With Quote
 


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:26 AM.