Survival of the Lions of Mara and Serengeti
When a male Lion cub is born, he strolls around with the confidence of a future king. With the assumption that he will always have it easy in the jungle and dominate the pride. Sooner, reality will set in and he will take it the hard way: he will learn what it takes to survive, hold the pride together and prove his worth in a pride.
In a family structure characterized by a deadly battle for dominance and survival for the fittest, the beautiful mane, a huge body and an intimidating roar comes at a cost. It is only the strongest ones who live long enough to dominate a territory.
How is it like surviving in the jungle?
In a typical pride, the lionesses do much of the hunting while the males are left behind to guard the territory and bond with the cubs. Their input is only required when taking down a prey as huge as a buffalo. It is easy to assume that the male enjoys a lot privileges in the pride but it is not always a smooth sail.
At a very tender age, the struggle for dominance begins when the younger males are forced out the pride by their fathers. This is done before they are strong enough to takeover the pride. As a norm, they branch out and fend for themselves while scouting for a new pride.
On their own, they have to learn to live the hard way. Often, they break out with their cousins and brothers and form a new pride of males to make hunting much easier. The lone male fights off the less powerful predators to get a share of their hunt lest he succumbs to hunger.
Soon, they will find a new pride and plan the takeover. The invasion is a well calculated move targeting the resident males.
If the resident males are not strong enough, they are fought off marking the end of an era for them. Some will be killed together with their cubs as the new males dominate the territory. This is called Infanticide. Immediately the females will come into estrus and mate with the new comer males.
The lionesses will mate with more than one suitor and since there’s no specific breeding period, lions mate several times a year. A mating marathon can involve 20 – 40 romps a day and the amorous pair often doesn’t even stop to eat!
The gestation period of the Lions is 105 days and three months after the mating the Lioness will isolate itself and give birth well concealed to avoid Hyenas and other predators.
This social behavior breeds a new family which continues the cycle of domination in every pride.