Male and Female Lions Hunt Using Different Strategies
I t has long been thought that male lions did not hunt, but rather were dependent on the lioness’s hunting prowess to sustain the pride. A study recently published in the March 2013 issue of Animal Behaviour discusses how researchers used airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LDAR) measurements of vegetation structure in Kruger National Park, and combined a global positioning system (GPS) telemetry data on lion kills to quantify lines-of-sight where lion kills occurred as compared to where lions rested. What they found was significant differences in use of vegetation structure by male and female lions during hunts.
Males Ambush and Females Work as Team
The study showed that males and females hunt in different types of landscapes. The female prefers to hunt their prey where they can see for approximately 8.6 meters around them whereas the male lions are more ambush-hunters, attacking from tall grass or dense shrubs where they can only see for about 3.4 meters around.
The male lion also likes to hunt alone but the female lions work as a team to bring down prey. Female lions prefer medium size prey such as zebra and wildebeest, while the stronger male lion is able to tackle the large buffalo. The study also found the males were more skilled at catching smaller faster prey like the impala when hunting among the thicker vegetation. Until now, male lions were thought to be less successful hunters than the lionesses but this new study shows that both male and female lions are skilled hunters.
Although the sample size was small, knowing that male lions are ambush hunters is important. The results show how significant vegetation management is for the balance of lion and prey populations and should be taken into consideration when rangers use fire to manage woody vegetation in parks.
Everything is connected and important.
Loarie, Tambling & Asner. 2013 Lion hunting behaviour and vegetation structure in an African savanna. Animal Behaviour http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2013.01.018
- Performing Lions and Tigers Escape the UK Circuses (conservationcubclub.com)
- Cats on the Hunt for New Scented Litter (conservationcubclub.com)
- Amur Tiger Leaves Forest to Ask Humans for Help (conservationcubclub.com)