Male and Female African Lions Hunt Using different strategy
It has long been thought that male lions do not hunt, but were dependent on the female lions’ hunting prowess to sustain the pride. A recently published study 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. They found significant differences in use of vegetation structure by male and female lions during hunts.
Male Lions Ambush and Female Lions Work as Team
The study showed that males and females hunt in different types of landscapes. Female lions prefers to hunt prey where they can see for approximately 8.6 meters whereas male lions attack where they can see about 3.4 meters around them. Male lions are ambush-hunters preferring to attack from tall grass or dense shrubs.
The male lion prefers to hunt alone while the female lions work as a team to bring down prey. Female lions choose medium size prey such as zebra and wildebeest. The stronger male lion is able to tackle the larger buffalo. The study showed males are more skilled at catching smaller faster prey like the impala when hunting among 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 the importance of vegetation management is for the balance of lion and prey populations. This balance of lion and prey should be considered 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