Lions are the only big cats to live in groups, called prides.Prides are close family groups.They work together to defend territory and hunt. The females in the pride tend to do the majority of the hunting. They work as a group and use intelligent hunting tactics to catch prey which they would not be able to catch alone as they are faster than them. Lions enjoy relaxing and lazing around. They spend between 16 and 20 hours each day resting and sleeping. They have few sweat glands so they wisely tend to conserve their energy by resting during the day and become more active at night when it is cooler. Lionesses are caring mothers who will even take care of a neglected cub, allowing him/her to suckle and giving them a chance to survive. Two or more lionesses in a group tend to give birth around the same time, and the cubs are raised together. Cubs are extremely playful.
Lions roar to communicate their position to other prides. A lion’s roar is the loudest of any big cat and can be heard up to 8 km away.
Lions have terrific night vision. They are 6 times more sensitive to light than humans. This gives them a distinct advantage over some prey species when hunting at night. Lions communicate through a range of behaviours and their expressive movements are very highly developed. They will perform peaceful tactile actions such as licking each other and rubbing heads. Head rubbing, or nuzzling, is a common greeting behaviour for lions. They also communicate through a variety of vocalisations including purrs, snarls, miaws and hissing. Their vocalisations also vary in intensity and pitch.
The mane of the male lion is a distinctive characteristic of lions as no other big cats have them. It makes male lions appear larger, thus allowing them to be more intimidating. It also signals sexual maturity and health status; lionesses tend to favour denser and darker manes. Lions are symbols of strength and courage and have been celebrated throughout history for these characteristics. They are also common symbols for royalty and stateliness, hence the phrase ‘king of the jungle’.
Ancient Egyptians venerated lions as their war dieties due to their strength, power and fierceness. The famous sphinxes are just one of many mythical depictions of the lion in Egyptian culture.