The Living Edens-Etosha: In the Wild-Lion
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LionThe Lion
Known as the "king of beasts," the lion (Panthera leo) is the most famous of all the great cats. A symbol of both beauty and power, the lion has always been highly regarded by man. Its distinctive, regal appearance and thunderous roars are both impressive and frightening. Despite these majestic characteristics, the lion is surpassed in size by the tiger. Built for strength, not speed, some lions weigh up to 500 pounds (230 kgs) and can grow to a length of 10 feet (3.1 meters) from head to tail.

Friendly Felines?
The most companionable of all great cats, lions live in organized social groups, or prides. Prides vary in size, from as few as four to as many as 40. Each pride consists of a group of related females, their young, and one to five adult males who cooperatively defend the pride against incoming males. Members of the pride will stay together, like a family, for many years. Young males leave the pride when they reach maturity, at which time they search for another pride to take over, and find a mate.

From Sunrise to Sunset
Day to day, the life of a lion can be described as restful and sociable. After sleeping or resting up to 20 hours a day, lions will hunt in groups for their food. After consuming a large meal, the pride may spend up to 24 hours resting and digesting. As social as they are, lions lay intertwined with each other and after hunting, when reunited, they rub cheeks to greet each other.

The Mane Attraction
The most distinctive feature of the male lion is its mane, a collar of long, thick fur. An adolescent male's mane will begin to grow at 18 months, after which it will continue to grow and darken until the age of five. A visual indicator of gender and power, the mane also serves to protect the lion's neck from other lions.


Talk to Me
Another distinguishing feature of the lion is its thunderous roar, which can be heard up to five miles (9 km) away. Lions produce numerous distinct vocalizations that help the members of the pride maintain contact as they move about. Also a territorial function, roaring is used to deter the approach of outside males. In Etosha, your best chance to hear the lion's roar is after a kill, or at dawn or dusk when they sound off in response to roars of neighboring prides.

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