Lion: King of the savannah

Lions live in co-operative social groups, working together to hunt, fight, survive and raise their young. Their social interactions are complex and every lion in the group has a responsibility. Males play dominant roles to protect their group while females team up to raise their cubs to survive. These cats are the second most abundant predator on the African plains after their fabled enemy, the spotted hyena. These laughing carnivores even attack vulnerable cubs, so the adults do not tolerate their presence.

Lions have evolved to live in groups to take on the tough conditions they face every day. A lion pack is unstoppable, and when working together they can take down prey that outweighs them. As well as being fearsome hunters, they spend time bonging in the pride and build life-long relationships. Females especially nuzzle and groom one another to maintain their family ties and trust one another with their cubs.

 

The World Heritage Foundation are working to conserve endangered big cats to stop these majestic animals disappearing from Earth. Big cats like lions play an extremely important role in the ecosystem and without them there would be an imbalance. Lions feed on ungulates like gazelles and zebras, and without predators their populations would get out of control. The carcasses lions leave behind feed scavenging animals, and even enrich the soil when the carrion decomposes.

By breeding endangered cats the WHF is supporting a new generation of cats, especially in critically endangered species like the Amur leopard that are facing extinction. Breeding programmes like this are helping to ensure that big cats will carry on.

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Image from flickr.com/photos/fatmanad