A lion is a large, powerful carnivore and was once common in Asia and parts of Europe as well as in Africa. This impressive member of the big cat family is now a protected species.

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Food and Hunting

Lions usually hunt at dusk and spend most of the day resting and sleeping. They have excellent eyesight and can see well in the dark. It is usually the lionesses who do the hunting. The lion takes little part in the hunt but he always eats his fill of the kill before the rest of the pride begin their meal - hence the expression 'the lion's share'.

Lions prefer to hunt zebra and wildebeest; these animals are slower and easier to catch than gazelles and small antelopes. The actual hunt is an organised event, some lionesses lying in wait, downwind of the herd they have targeted. Another moves around the herd until she is upwind of it, then she suddenly breaks cover and chases the frightened herd straight towards the hidden lionesses. One animal from the herd, perhaps a slow or injured one, is singled out and killed by dragging it to the ground and biting its neck. When prey is scarce, lions eat almost anything, including fallen fruit and carrion (already dead animals).

Hunger may drive them to attack larger prey - buffalo, giraffe, even rhinoceros, hippopotamus and elephant calves. These are all dangerous animals to interfere with and the lions often get injured. Lions kill only when hungry. Herds sense when lions are out to kill and will often ignore lions wandering close to them.

Read More: Breeding

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