Many years ago, the lion ruled the plains of Africa, intimidating any whom he came across with his powerful roar which can be heard up to 8 kms (5 miles) away.
Thanks to human development and expansion, the lion population decreased from about 100,000 in the 1960s, to 32,000 in 2012. Although poaching and hunting plays a role, the main reason is people defending themselves or their livestock.
Lions are the only members of the big cat family who live in groups, called prides. They are expressive animals, often licking each other, rubbing heads, or nuzzling their partners. They hunt together, using intelligent tactics which enable them to catch prey much faster than they are.
The male lion, distinguished by his majestic mane which makes him appear more dominant and intimidating, is very much the head of the family, and is protective of his pride.
Probably due to his immense size, aggravated by his conspicuous mane, the lioness does most of the hunting. She then stands back and allows her mate first pickings.
She is a good mother, and will even care for an orphaned cub if necessary. The cubs are playful, and it’s amazing to watch the cheeky babies teasing their great ferocious daddy who at times is tolerant of their behaviour. When he’s had enough, he will discipline them with a swift cuff and a roar.
Lions sleep most of the daylight hours away. They have few sweat glands, so they conserve their energy and become active at night, with a night vision 6 times more sensitive than ours.
Throughout history, they have been recognised for their strength and courage. They don’t pick fights, but they are always willing to defend their territory and pride when necessary. Despite his loud roar, the lion is extremely stealthy and can creep up on his foe totally unannounced.
And here is a warning to all you enthusiastic tourists who visit Africa. Never, never, never, get out of your cars in Game Reserves, except where indicated that it’s safe. Don’t view game with your windows open.
Lions can look docile and loving. Their babies are cute. But they are predators. Don’t ever forget that!
A few years ago there was a dreadful incident in a Game Reserve when a student climbed out of his vehicle to film a pride of lions. He was literally torn to pieces as one of his friends filmed the event.
What can we learn from the lion? Are we strong and courageous when we need to defend our territory? I’m sure any of you who are parents would fight to the death to defend your offspring. But what about the things you believe in? Your faith? Your morals? The quality of life in your country? Political standards? Are you willing to fight for these?