King of the Jungle might be his most famous title, and historically these magnificent beasts roamed much of Europe, Asia and Africa, but nowadays the lion (Panthera leo) is most commonly found in Africa.
The most iconic of the big cats, lions are instantly recognizable thanks to their sandy hues, and the glorious shaggy manes that adorn the males. Don’t be fooled by the retro hairdo though, it’s the girls that run this town.
Lionesses are the ones responsible for hunting – which they do as a team, and they comprise the core of the pride, along with their cubs and a dominant male. Other males may be present but only one will have breeding rights. The females in the pride tend to be related to one another, and will often synchronise the birth of their cubs, despite being non-seasonal breeders.
When the lionesses coordinate to hunt, it’s species such as zebras, wildebeest, buffalos and giraffes that they tend to have their eyes fixed upon, although they’ll also take smaller prey such as impalas and porcupines when the opportunity arises.
The cubs begin by suckling milk from their mother and the other lionesses for the first six months, and begin adding meat to their diets at the age of around ten weeks. The babies will typically be hidden from view until they’re six weeks old, at which point they’re brought out to join the pride.
The most memorable images of lions tend to be those in which they’re hunting, but some of the biggest clashes are actually with their own species over territory. Territories tend to extend to around 100 square miles, and will consist of scrub, open woodland or grasslands.
These giant cats are social, and although best known for their nerve-shattering roars, they have numerous other, more subtle, means of communication. Their calls include grunts, moans, huffs, puffs and snarls. Urine is sprayed and anuses are sniffed by way of ascertaining one another’s position.
Lions are commonly found throughout our Botswana properties, but rather more surprisingly, they can also be seen in Namibia. In fact, the desert-dwelling lions found in the Hoanib region are perhaps the most fascinating, thanks to the lifestyle that enables them to exist in such challenging conditions.