Busting some myths about lion behaviour

When it comes to animal behaviour, never say never. In fact, most people who spend a lot of time in the bush continuously witness behaviour that is believed not to happen or has never been recorded. The reality is that animals act of their own free will, and don’t always follow the rules of textbooks. What many people believe about animal behaviour could be the result of witnessing limited examples of a particular situation. I think that is exactly why there is a number of misconceptions about lion hunting and feeding behaviour, so let’s look at some of these myths about lion behaviour:

Female lions do all of the hunting”

False. Both male and female lions hunt. The reason females hunt more frequently, is because the male must spend more time defending his territory. Another reason is that males are more conspicuous in the bush with their dark coloured manes, while females are more camouflaged and therefore less likely to be detected. When hunting together, females often chase down and catch the prey while the male uses his superior strength to give the fatal blow, particularly for large prey species such as Cape buffalo and giraffe. Additionally, males who live in coalitions without females or a pride will hunt for themselves when they aren’t successful in scavenging meals from weaker predators.

“Male lions are lazy”

False. Male lions have a reputation for being lazy, but that is far from the truth. A male’s job is critical to the protection of his pride. Male lions patrol the territory where the pride lives, and will fight to protect it. They travel vast distances to patrol their territory, by scent marking and vocalizing, to ensure other lions who may be a threat, stay away. It is critical for male lions to keep out other males, because if another male or coalition comes to dominate, they will kill all the cubs to keep from expending energy on raising cubs that are not their own offspring.

“Male lions eat first”

False. Male lions do not always eat first. If they are on a large carcass with plenty of food, they will share with both females, younger males and cubs at the same time.  It is usually only when there is limited food, that the male will fight and chase off the others so that he gets enough to eat. If you don’t believe us, here’s proof.


Words by: Charlotte Arthun

Photos and video by: Ingrid Nemorin




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