Lion Basic Facts
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Lion Hunting


Lions are social animals. By hunting together, they can go after bigger game. Bigger game means more food for everyone. (Lions don't think about ecological advantages, they just like to eat!) The typical prey animal that is taken by lions is in the 250 pound (112.5 Kg.) range, but much larger game (Such as buffalo) is hunted when conditions permit. (In the Savuti National Park in Botswana, adult elephants and hippos are occasionally taken.) Prey species more commonly taken include zebra, wildebeest, gazelles, antelope and waterbuck. Lions will also hunt smaller animals, when they are hungry and nothing bigger is available. Even crocodiles are occasionally hunted.

Lions are also expert scavengers, and obtain as much as 40 percent of their food by stealing it from other predators, or finding already dead animals.

Although they are the largest, lions are by no means the best hunters in their ecosystem. (Cheetahs are probably the best.) They do not do simple things that solitary predators tend to do, like keep the wind before them. Instead, lions survive because there is so much food available around them, and they tend to hunt in groups. Even their impact on prey populations is smaller than might be suspected. About one in fifteen of any given popular prey animal will become a lion meal in a given year. This isn't even enough to significantly control population growth! On average, a single lion will kill 15-20 large herbivores a year.

Hunting is done most frequently in the evening, or early morning. Much hunting is also done at night. The moonless part of the night is preferred for hunting. Less hunting is done during the day, due to the heat, and better chances of being spotted by the prey. Lions do hunt during the day, and their best statistical chance of a single animal making a kill is when they stumble across a lone prey animal who is caught by surprise.



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