Lions Feeding

WARNING: This page is not for the squeamish. Lions are handsome creatures, but they are also vicious carnivores. Here's a glimpse at that aspect of them – the part that won't make it into the Disney movies.

Lions are the only social members of the cat family. A pride will consist of a number of related females, some younger males (young enough that the dominant male does not consider them a threat) and any cubs. Typically the hunting is done by the older females of the pride, who have learned to work together to outflank predators and set up ambushes. Although the females do the killing, the males are all too happy to join in the feast once the food arrives. The dominant male in particular is quick to lay claim to the choicest parts. Only after all the adults have had their fill can the cubs safely join in. After the meal, as they clean up, one can definitely see that they are related to house cats.

Most photographs here come from Chobe National Park in Botswana, where the lions had killed a cape buffalo (itself a pretty vicious animal) during the night. Luckily for us, the kill was very close to the road (off-road driving is not permitted in Chobe) and the light was good. It was especially interesting to watch the younger lions interacting with the veterans. After having their fill, the lions started playing and licking each other as a means of cleaning up after a messy meal.

Three other photos come from Ruaha National Park in southern Tanzania. Again, a cape buffalo was the meal of choice. These photos show, however, that hunting is not a risk-free game for the lions. Although the large male had survived and apparently had eaten to satiation, a younger member of the pride didn't make it – it had been killed by the buffalo and was badly mauled.

Related pages: Lions – Main Page and Lions Mating (Rated PG).