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Why are lions social animals?

United Kingdom Sully Offline
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#1
( This post was last modified: 06-01-2019, 01:20 AM by Sully )

So I watched a documentary on why Lions are social animals. It was all based on Packer and his teams research on this subject. They observed 28 prides and had records on over 5000 lions and came to a conclusion. The documentary addressed the most popular theories and debunked them, I'll try and summarize what they said.

Hunting:

So, many people think lions are social so they can hunt more efficiently, but quite bluntly their success rate didn't increase from when hunting solo to in a group. And people also think Lions hunt in groups to take down big prey like buffalo and hippo's however the burden of sharing the meal outweighed hunting as a group to get it in the first place. In other words they would've been better hunting smaller prey for themselves. Another thing wrong with this theory is their table manners, if they were social for this reason surely they would peacefully share the food?

Raising Cubs:

Another common theory they debunked is raising cubs as a group. People think that the mothers actively share their milk between all of the cubs in the pride however Packers research showed mothers seem to only want to feed their own cubs and don't really like the other mothers cubs suckling them. The cubs wait until the mothers are asleep however to go over to any female and suckle, they are more like parasites to the females.

They also said that cubs don't get any added nutrition meaning they don't need to share in the first place.

Infanticide:

So another theory was that mothers team up along with males together to stop invaders killing their cubs, but that happens to every cat so why have lions evolved to be in groups?

Why lions are social animals:

Packer did an experiment with recorded lion roars and played them back to prides. This was the most fascinating part of the documentary. When it was a one on one meaning packer played one roar to one lion, there was no response. 2 on one on both  sides there was no response (packer played 2 roars and one roar to one lion and two lions) , but when the lions had an advantage of two, they roared back, for example when packer played 1 roar to 3 lions there was a response and when he played 3 roars to five lions there was a response, but when there were equal lions on both sides, no response, and when packer had an advantage of one or more, there was no response either. This means lions can count.

Basically:

Packer             Lion(s)
1 roar to             1  = no response
1 roar to             2  = no response
1 roar to             3  = response

Lions need an advantage of two to roar back.


They also researched where the most successful lions prides were, successful being defined by how many cubs raised. This revealed that the most successful lion prides were physically based around confluences. So they came to the conclusion that lions are not social because of how they live, but where they live. Confluences offer abundant prey and cover to raise cubs easier. They are thus social to protect this vital territory which has many perks for survival.

If you have any other theories please share.


*This image is copyright of its original author
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Czech Republic Spalea Offline
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#2

Hmm: according to several specialised authors Brian Bertram, Schaller and so on, The lions being not particularly efficient hunters (compared to african wild dogs, cheetahs within the same biotop), have a significantly better success rate when they hunt in groups.

Approximately:

A lone lioness, or male lion: one  in 10 attempts.

In group: one in three attempts
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Guatemala GuateGojira Offline
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#3

Wow, great information!!!

What is the name of the documentary?
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Czech Republic Spalea Offline
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#4

I just come to see "All about lions" by Craig Packer on youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDuDlTObPMc

In the form of lecture in front of a full audience and given by him. Very interesting, especially as svtigris says when Packer demonstrates that lions can count.
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Malaysia JawaRumbia Offline
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#5
( This post was last modified: 11-07-2015, 06:12 AM by JawaRumbia )

@SVTIGRIS nice work, It's amazing that lion will roared back to a rival when they got advantage by 2. Just like M-02 and Gengi situation. M-02 did not respond Gengi roared and this was happen in the wild, in Gorongosa National Park.
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India sanjay Offline
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#6

Well,
I respect the packer and his work but I disagree on some of points here Or I can say I have different perspective here
The main reason why lions are social animal is the open plain in which they live. Lion live in open plains and this doesn't give any advantage over animals which are living in dense forest, Only advantage is that you can run faster, that's why cheetah still surviving here. For animals like lions, which are heavier, bigger and less athletic when compared to leopard, cheetah and other small predators, it is beneficial to live in group.
Hyena clans are one of the major reason lions live in group. Hyena are social animals and they tackle any problem in group, that is why all predator except lion pride run away from them.
A single lion, specially lioness can not survive in place which is surrounded by hyenas and there is no place to hide (open plain).

Hunting:
I agree what is said by packer on above post by @SVTIGRIS, but in open plain it is hard to catch a prey, if your are bigger and slower compared to other predator and the prey. Living in group help them to catch preys. Now it does not matter whether your success rate is higher or not, but at least your getting something to eat when you live in group, may be allowed at last and only the some remaining piece of meats, but still you get to eat something. That's the advantage of living in group.

Raising cubs:
In this case I think, protection is important than suckling. I have seen many documentary in which at least 1 member of lioness group stay with cubs while the y go for hunting. And its important, reason is again open plain. In open plain a lion cubs can be easily killed if there are no one to protect them.

I agree with number game of lions to protect the territory but I will say that it is not the only reason for lions to live in groups.
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Canada Dr Panthera Offline
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#7

There are several theories about the reason for social behaviour in lions and all have some truth in them, Packer says it is for the protection of cubs, Hunter says to dominate competitors, others say to hunt better...and I add to exploit the largest prey possible
Let us consider everything :
1- Defence of cubs:
Infanticide is not unique to lions, most felids males and some females practice it, but lions in prime habitat occur at higher densities than other cats with more contacts with hostile lions from other prides and nomads and the danger to cubs, particularly in open habitat where they have little cover, in such habitats pride males have a full time job to patrol the area and chase away intruders ( whereas in woodland areas they hunt more of their food) and the lionesses form larger prides five or more lionesses can weigh combined 600-700kg and can ward off one or two nomad males if the pride males are away.
2- Protection of Prime Territory:
Africa is rich in habitat with high prey density that every pride of lions would want to own, large prides are formed in the great habitat in eastern and Southern Africa , medium size prides in Tsavo, Gir, and west Africa , small prides in the kalahari and ( historically single lions, or pairs in the Atlas Mountains, North Africa and the Middle East ) . Available prey dictate the size of the pride.
3-Dominating Competitors:
Lions share their habitat now with spotted hyena clans, brown hyenas, striped hyenas, packs of African wild dogs, leopards, and cheetahs...they also evolved with the now extinct giant hyena and three species of sabertooth tigers, while a single lion is dominant over these competitors one on one, a pride of lions will conquer all competitors.
4-Hunting:
Single lions are competent hunters and even when they attack together most prey under 500 kg is practically killed by a single lion while the others offer just token participation, also Schaller showed that lionesses get most food in prides of 2-3 lionesses..larger prides do not get more food unless they start hunting mega fauna.
Africa has more species of ungulates over 100 kg that any other continent and most of them are still in very good numbers lions may get some competition from hyena clans or wild dog packs but prides of lions are the most fearsome terrestrial hunting unit on earth ( not in success rate but in size of prey ) , they have been recorded killing every animal in Africa including adult elephants, specialized prides in hunting large prey are common everywhere wildebeest, zebra, and large antelopes are not common or migratory....there is a pride in Botswana that kills 35 elephant every dry season including several adult females, in Selinda Botswana as well there is a pride that kills a hippo a week  , another pride in Tanzania killed fifty giraffes in a few months, the Tsaro pride in Duba plains average  a buffalo every other day, these food sources are exclusive to lions.
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United Kingdom Sully Offline
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#8

(11-07-2015, 12:48 AM)GuateGojira Wrote: Wow, great information!!!

What is the name of the documentary?


It's called the truth about lions
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United Kingdom Sully Offline
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#9

Very interesting responses guys.
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Norway Pantherinae Offline
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#10
( This post was last modified: 11-08-2015, 12:04 AM by Pantherinae )

those studies where taken on lionesses, when they did The same to male lions, they found out a male lion would come to challenge The invaders even if he was outnumberd 3:1

Karen McComb was the one who measured the responses of one to seven Serengeti females to the recorded roars of one or three females. A roar is a territorial display, so if a stranger roars in the middle of your territory, it’s like coming home and finding a stranger sitting comfortably in your living room. The females responded according to the odds: if lone females heard the roar of a single female, they would sit tight and try to recruit their distant pridemates; but groups of three females would immediately approach the loudspeaker. When exposed to a roaring trio, a real trio would again try to recruit help; but a quintet would quickly approach. As long as “us” outnumbered “them” by at least two individuals, “we” would move to oust the invaders.

In a set of experiments to resident males, Jon Grinnell found a similar sense of “numeracy” but the males sometimes approached even when outnumbered three to one—probably because male lions only have a brief opportunity to father offspring and are more likely to be suicidal in protecting their pride.
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India sanjay Offline
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#11

I think lion also can predict the age of lions with the roars, If they feel they opponents are sub adult and they can handle them, then they response back without considering the number game.
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United States BoldChamp Offline
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#12

Lions are social animals due to the area in which they live, coupled with the competition. In open areas, with such dense populations, group oriented animals are able to to sustain life, to raise cubs, while it also allows them to keep the prey numbers at bay.
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United States Pckts Offline
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#13
( This post was last modified: 11-08-2015, 01:12 AM by Pckts )

(11-07-2015, 12:30 AM)Spalea Wrote: Hmm: according to several specialised authors Brian Bertram, Schaller and so on, The lions being not particularly efficient hunters (compared to african wild dogs, cheetahs within the same biotop), have a significantly better success rate when they hunt in groups.

Approximately:

A lone lioness, or male lion: one  in 10 attempts.

In group: one in three attempts

I have actually read and heard that lions are equally as successful when hunting alone or with a single partner as they are when hunting with a pride.
"Females do the majority of the hunting, and males who tag along with the hunt usually stay back until a kill is made. Lions hunting in pairs and groups have a success rate of c. 30%. Lions hunting singly by daylight have a success rate of 17 - 19%, but are the equal of groups at night reopening the debate as to why lions became the only sociable cat; maybe it is to control exclusive hunting grounds. "

Infact, I remember reading somewhere that very often it is one lion who will hunt, to see cooperative lion hunts are very rare, its usually a select few who do the hunting and the rest come later to take advantage of the kill.

@Pantherinae that is incorrect, Males were equally used in the tests.
" A male's response was likely to greatly depend on its assessment of female numbers, Dr McComb said.

"What we find is that males who are in a position to come and take over a pride seem to be aware of this greater threat," she confirmed.

"If it's one female roaring they'll actually come very quickly - they'll almost run towards the loudspeaker, they're so interested in the female - but if there are three of them they'll come much more slowly and be much more cautious"

when they did the dummy test and the roar test the lions would abandon if they felt out numbered and the Males were extremely cautious of the dummy and often showing no aggression towards the dummy at all, other than a dark maned lion for the more recent test done by Packer and Kevin Richardson. In fact, when they used a dark maned lion dummy the female was following it trying to abandon her male to mate with the dark maned male.
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Norway Pantherinae Offline
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#14
( This post was last modified: 11-08-2015, 01:28 AM by Pantherinae )

Okey @Pckts where I read this it just said the females where tested, nothing about males.

Still Jon Grinnell's studie showed something different, males would approatch even outnumberd 1:3, and there is videos where a large male is challenging 4 males, but also where on male is running away from two. I'm sure it depends much on induviduval males. 

Those dummy tests are not accurate IMO, there is nothing natural about the Lions behavior towards the dummy, I've seen countless interractions between lions in the wild and captivity and it's not The same. 

The lions seemed confussed about The whole thing.
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United States Pckts Offline
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#15

(11-08-2015, 01:27 AM)Pantherinae Wrote: Okey @Pckts where I read this it just said the females where tested, nothing about males.

Still Jon Grinnell's studie showed something different, males would approatch even outnumberd 1:3, and there is videos where a large male is challenging 4 males, but also where on male is running away from two. I'm sure it depends much on induviduval males. 

Those dummy tests are not accurate IMO, there is nothing natural about the Lions behavior towards the dummy, I've seen countless interractions between lions in the wild and captivity and it's not The same. 

The lions seemed confussed about The whole thing.

The dummy tests seemed very realistic to me, it was astonishing to see the golden maned male refuse to approach the dark maned dummy and the female abandon the golden male to go off with the black maned dummy when they threw him in the jeep and drove away with him.
On the flip side, the black maned male and female went straight toward the Male dummy and it was actually the female who begin the attack but the male was right there with her and they didn't stop until the dummy was completely removed of its "skin" and was unrecognizable.
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