Young Male Lion
Caption: Young male lion (Panthera leo) with winter leaf stuck to his mane, KNP, South Africa.
Camera: Canon EOS 450D (Canon Rebel XSi 12.2MP); Canon EF 400mm f/5.6 L USM; Focal Length: 400mm; Shutter speed: 1/1000; Aperture: f/5.6; ISO: 800.
This immature male was part of a larger group of young lions, including both males and females, that we found near Engelhard Dam while staying at Letaba Camp in the Kruger National Park.
There were no mature adults in the group but from the age of the lions (probably around 2 – 2½ yrs) it’s probable they were still members of a larger pride.
Young males are usually evicted from the pride by the dominant male (or males) at around 2½ – 3 yrs old. Females on the other hand tend to stay with the pride on maturing, although they may occasionally disperse with their evicted brothers.
The social life of lions is complex and there are no hard and fast rules. Prides may fragment, depending on numbers and size of territory, and then continue to live in adjacent or overlapping ranges.
Young males, after eviction from the pride, will become nomads, with brothers often staying together, forming coalitions. This enhances their chance of survival during this dangerous period when they have to cross territories occupied by larger and stronger resident males.
When the youngsters are old enough, they will attempt to take over a pride by challenging the resident male(s), at which stage a coalition offers a distinct advantage. See Lion Facts for more about the social structure of these big cats, and also Lion Pictures for a selection of colorful African lion images.
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