The world has more than a few Apex Predators, beasts so powerful and elegant in form that they dominate their surroundings with fierce supremacy. Some of the most famous Apex predators of the wild are the Wolf, the Great White Shark, the Polar Bear, and the Bald Eagle.
But, without a doubt, the world’s most magnificent Apex predator is the Lion.
Lions, like most Big Cats, have razor-sharp senses that have developed far beyond that of other animals. This is particularly true of their sense of smell.
Both lion subspecies have a very powerful olfactory organ, called the Jacobson’s organ, which allows them to accurately detect prey, as well as potential mates, from surprisingly long distances.
How Far Can A Lion Smell Its Prey?
A lion can smell their prey from hundreds of yards, possibly miles, away. The exact distance at which a lion’s scent of smell remains an effective offensive and defensive tool remains a mystery.
The lion’s sense of smell is so sharp that it lets the lion know how long it’s been since its prey passed through a given area. In this way, the pack is able to triangulate the exact location of prey across vast distances. This is important because lions do not excel at long hunts, and they need to get as close as possible to their prey before initiating their attack.
Lions are fierce short distance hunters; which is why they have developed such a refined sense of smell. It allows the lion to pinpoint exactly where its prey is, and where it has been.
Their scent of smell, however, is far from being the only impressive trait possessed by the kings of the jungle. Every way that you look at them, lions are truly magnificent creatures.
Here Are 10 More Breathtaking Facts About Lions
Only Social Cats
If there is one characteristic that sets lions apart from other cats in the animal kingdom it is the fact that they are the only big cat with an established and distinct social order. Lions live in packs, called prides, that follows a very specific social dynamic and pecking order.
Prides vary in the number of individuals and the size of the territory depending on the availability of prey nearby.
The female lions in particular display some markedly social behaviors, especially when it comes time to hunt prey, as well as birthing, and raising their cubs.
Lion prides will grow and reduce in size over time based on serval exterior factors.
Lions Don’t Drink Water Everyday
Lions will drink water whenever they have the opportunity to, but if they are well-fed, they can go days without having to drink water. However, lions like to stay near sources of water because their prey will be most vulnerable when they stop for a drink.
Experts have noted, for example, that during the dry seasons of the African Savannah, virtually all lion attacks take place near sources of water, be it a pond, river, or lake. This way, the pride can knock two birds with one stone: they can capture a meal, and quench their thirst.
Lions Must Protect Their Prey
For lions, the job isn’t done when they kill their prey. They must protect it from carrion feeders such as hyenas and vultures until they are done eating.
Medium-sized and large prides are very capable of doing this; however, smaller prides or solitary lions are vulnerable to larger groups of carrion feeders and other scavengers.
Male Lions Also Hunt
Male lions have developed a reputation for being lazy because most of the hunting is done by the females of the pack. However, this is somewhat of a myth.
Male lions will regularly participate in hunts; although they prefer to hunt alone. For this reason, you will rarely see males hunting alongside females.
A Strong Sense Of Smell Is Not The Lions Only Super Power
Lions have above-average hearing and sight. They are highly nocturnal animals. While they are known to hunt during all hours of the day, if the opportunity arises, the majority of their hunts happen between dusk and dawn.
In fact, lions are most successful during the darkest of moonless nights. This is because lions have excellent night vision, and their eyes are able to detect movement in near pitch-black settings.
Another reason behind their nocturnal nature is the fact that lions do not possess many sweat glands and, as such, must rest for much of the day to avoid overheating. At night, when it is generally cooler, lions are much freer to move about without risk to their health.
Lions Can Adapt To Different Habitats
Even though lions are known worldwide as Kings of The Jungle, this is a misnomer. Lions are in fact ideally suited to the African Savanna. However, they can adapt to other habitats such as semi-arid deserts, grassy plains, shrublands, and woodlands. Some lions have even been seen at high altitudes, such as close to the snow line in Mt. Kenya, the second-highest mountain in Africa.
Presently, the largest lion populations are found in Eastern African countries of Tanzania and Kenya. They are also found as far south as Namibia, South Africa, and Botswana.
The adult lion populations of Western Africa are significantly smaller, to the point that these populations are critically endangered. Some estimates place the total number of Western African lions at less than 500 individuals.
With the exception of a very small population in a remote region of India, lions are practically extinct outside of Africa.
Lion Roars Are Somewhat Unique
The roar of a lion is one of the most easily recognizable sounds in the entire animal kingdom. The earth-shaking, chest-quacking roar of a lion is produced by the combined vibration of a special bone called the hyoid bone, and the thick vocal cords found deep within the animal’s throat.
Lions will roar to communicate, ascertain supremacy, threaten aggression, etc. Besides the leopard, the jaguar, and the tiger, the lion is the only other cat capable of roaring.
Funnily enough, lions cannot purr. The remaining members of the feline family can only meow. Can you imagine your domestic house cat roaring?
Lions Are Very Amorous
During the mating season, a lion pair can mate up to twenty times per day! Male lions will also become hyper-aggressive during this time, and will often fight other mates to keep their mates as much to themselves as possible.
Lions May Disappear In Our Lifetimes
Lion populations have been in continuous decline for a very long time now. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, lions are considered a vulnerable species. By most counts, the total world lion population hovers around 20,000 individuals.
This number has fallen about 50% in the last two decades alone due to the rapid pace at which their habitats are destroyed. To put into perspective the danger that lions currently face, realize that only about 1% of their historical habitat remains untouched.
Humans Are To Blame
We began this post by saying that the lion was one of the world’s most impressive apex predators and that no animal could challenge their reign; however, this is not entirely true. Human beings are almost single-handedly to blame for the decline of the world’s lion population.
If we aren’t actively destroying their habitats, we are actively hunting them for either sport or out of fear. The more we encroach upon their habitats, the more that the lion population will continue to shrink.
At one point, approximately around 10,000 years ago, the lion was the single most numerous terrestrial mammal on earth. Lions were found far and wide across southern and western Europe, and in America from the Yukon peninsula down to Peru.
For thousands of years, humans have both revered and feared the lion. This magnificent creature has been the protagonist of countless legends, stories, and traditions, symbolizing physical, earthly power, as well as spiritual majesty, and it would be criminal if we lost them forever.