Why is a lion the king of beasts? Description of the lion habitat and lifestyle
Even small children know that a lion is the king of beasts. Why the predator was awarded such a title, probably, many thought. According to researchers, these large cats are not the fastest and nimble and, no offense to the royal ladies said, not the smartest among predators. However, only they can, after a successful hunt, publish a victorious roar, from which all living things in the vicinity freeze. But even this can not be a reason for obtaining such a high rank.
There are many factors confirming that this powerful predator is the king of beasts. In this article we will introduce you to them.
Description of a predatory cat
To understand why a lion is the king of beasts, let's pay attention to its appearance. Probably no one will dispute the fact that the look of this predator is really regal, especially in the young, full of the strength of the animal.His black-brown or fiery-red mane gives him royal grandeur. And the voice of the lion, no one doubts his identity. On a quiet night, his roar causes awe at everyone hearing him even eight kilometers from the location of the king of beasts.
A lion is an animal with a flexible, very strong, mobile and muscular body. The predator is a great runner. This beautiful big cat has a well-developed musculature of the front paws, which it holds prey, and neck. The lion, as befits the king of beasts, is one of the largest predators on our planet. An African male weighs on average about one hundred and sixty kilograms, and in length reaches two and a half meters. In 1936, in South Africa, hunters shot and killed a lion weighing 313 kilograms.
The description of the lion in various sources suggests that the main deadly weapon of the lion are its powerful jaws with huge fangs. Only one teeth grip the lion is extremely strong. He easily holds even such large animals as, for example, antelope-wildebeest. The tongue of the lion is coarse, covered with tubercles, which are sharp spikes, helping the predator to tear off pieces of meat, tearing the prey apart.They also help the animal to remove ticks from the skin and catch fleas when it is caring for the skin.
In nature, animals of each species are looking for the continuation of the kind of partner of their species. But sometimes this streamlined system fails, and hybrids are born. In our case, these are animals obtained from crossing a lion and a tiger. Depending on what species the parents belong to, the name of the offspring is also determined: if the father is a lion, then the cub is called a ligre, if the mother is a lioness, then the baby is called a tigerfly.
Characteristics of hybrids are significantly different. For example, tigerrolls, as a rule, are much smaller than their parents. And ligers are notable for their particularly large sizes, like, for example, Hercules ligre, living in the Institute of Protected and Rare Species (Miami). Its length reaches three meters.
Most often, hybrids are sterile, but scientists note an interesting fact: in such hybrids only males remain sterile, but females rarely, but bring posterity. Very rare hybrids of the second level. This is due to the rarest cases where ligers (females) or tigrolves retain the ability to reproduce.They produce offspring with tigers or lions.
These are not hybrids, but animals with low melanin production. The reason for this very rare phenomenon is the recessive gene. As a result of its impact, a very light color appears, which can vary from creamy beige to white. Some white lions in this color painted some parts of the body, and cream - others, there are individuals with a smooth white and cream color.
Often, white lions, the description of which is often found in the specialized literature, have blue eyes (which is also explained by a low level of melanin). Nowadays, only about three hundred white individuals inhabit the planet. Developed special programs for the conservation of these animals. It is not easy for lions themselves to live in such a color that lives in the wild: this color unmasks them, making hunting difficult.
Habitat and habitat
The lion is an animal spread on two continents: in Asia and Africa, where their distribution range lies south of the Sahara desert. In Asia, lions live in the Gyr Forest (Gujarat, Indian state). The habitats of lions are mostly savannas, but they are found in forests and dense shrubs.
How many lions live?
The life span of a predator depends on various factors. Under natural conditions, despite the fierce appearance, strength and agility, these huge cats lurk a lot of dangers, wounds on the hunt, injuries that does not prolong the life of the predator. These are clashes for life, and for death with aliens beyond the territory, and attacks by other no less aggressive and dangerous predators. An animal receives the most serious injuries during a lion hunt for large animals (for buffaloes, for example).
But as before, the biggest problem for a lion is poachers. Therefore, on average, lions live in the wild for about 10 years; long-livers, reaching the age of fourteen, are much less common. It should be noted that in the wild, lionesses live two to three years longer than males. This is probably due to the fact that the lionesses do not participate in clashes with strangers in the struggle for territory.
Lifespan in captivity
Since the end of the XVIII century, people are trying to save these beautiful animals from extinction, trying to keep them in reserves, where predatory cats live and breed normally. How many lions live in captivity? Their lifespanincreases significantly: in preserves and zoos, predators live up to 20 and even 25 years, provided that they are properly cared for and observed by veterinarians.
None of the predators, except lions, have such an organization of coexistence. Perhaps this explains why the lion is the king of beasts. Pride is a fairly large group of animals, in which, as a rule, there are several females with offspring and one or two males. Sometimes there are prides consisting of only females, but most often this indicates that the male died, and soon a young leader will take his place.
Sometimes a full lion pride has up to forty animals, but more often they are much smaller. It has an average of up to fifteen or eighteen animals. Lifestyle lion size and unhurried. In the daytime hot hours after a meal, all family members gather in one place and rest.
The Lion Pride is a unique structure from which all are the winners: the males are fed, the females are protected. As a true master, the lion correctly rules in his domain. All animals living in the pride territory belong to the king of animals.But here it should be emphasized that lions never kill unnecessary animals, "for the future." They know perfectly well how much food is needed to feed a family.
The role of females in pride
In the family, females decide where, how, and whom to hunt, although together they act extremely rarely. The only exception is the hunt for large prey, when females attack in pairs. Interestingly, unlike many animals, females of lions get along well with other females, often looking after their neighbors "children" as if they were their own.
If for some reason the female cannot hunt (for example, because of an injury), then in the pride they take care of her and allow her to have a common meal. The animals get much tougher with the aged and sick lions: the pride refuses them. The family not only does not protect them, but also drives them out. The decrepit, weak and skinny lion often becomes easy prey for hyenas.
The lion rules a little. As a rule, the term of his stay on the "throne" is no more than three years, after which he is "overthrown" as a real king, a stronger and younger male. The next head of the pride is a lion, which is not a blood relative of females. All pride females are sisters.Males are strangers. They come to the family from other prides. So nature has taken care to prevent the degradation of predators and incest.
Relationships in Pride
A strict hierarchy reigns in the family of lions, which is embedded in the mind of animals at the level of instinct - a well-fed leader - a kind and reliable protector. For this reason, the head of the pride, an adult lion, is the first to begin the meal. Until he finishes it, no one can even come close to mining. Severe punishment awaits for violating the violator: he may be expelled from the family.
When they are full, lions play with babies. I must say that they are very patient with the lion cubs, sometimes even show amazing tenderness. However, the main process of education goes to females. They all feed babies. No female will ever refuse a baby in milk if his mother went hunting.
In the marriage period, the king of beasts is especially tender with his chosen one. The lion-leader mates with a female in which estrus has occurred. During mating, a lion nibbles a lioness by the scruff of its neck, which is characteristic of all feline. After three and a half months, the pregnant lioness leaves the pride, finds a secluded, usually overgrown grass corner in which the offspring are born.
Lions are born helpless and blind.Their skin covers the spots, which eventually disappear. In most cases, not more than half of the cubs survive. Babies feed on breast milk up to six months. Then their diet consists only of meat.
Hunting young lions also taught females. When the young reach three months of age, they go hunting with their mothers. At first, they completely copy the actions of experienced hunters — they learn to sneak up and hide unnoticed, repeat the movements that their mothers make when attacking prey. And at six months, teenage lions hunt on their own, getting food for the whole pride.
However, babies are always in danger: they can be prey to strangers. In addition, if the former leader is defeated, a new one can kill a lion, seizing the right moment when their mothers are on the hunt. Thus, the new leader achieves the location of females. The fact is that after the death of the offspring, literally the next day, the lioness is ready for mating.
Sometimes in a family there are difficult situations. As a rule, this happens when the lions guarding the pride go off in search of new territories for the family.At this time, the lioness with cubs have to survive on their own, earning their own food. When it becomes especially difficult, weakened females begin to howl plaintively, causing the males to help. And a miracle happens - the males return to the pride and help get food.
In the animal world, the lion pride is the only example of such a relationship between related individuals. Only lions manage to create such a system of mutual aid and support that does not suppress each other.
It seems to us quite obvious why the lion is the king of beasts. He confirms his title with a stately appearance, behavior, and an advantage in strength and power over the majority of predators. No other animal in the world claims to this high rank yet.