Sunday, July 19, 2015

Big Cat, Lion the King

Big Cat, Lion the King

Lion is known to humans in India since the time of God Narsingh (half lion half human), the 4th Avatara of Vishnu. It is a vehicle of Goddess Durga. Astrology has identified it with the powerful masculine fiery sign Leo, housed by Sun. The human kings have learnt the tricks of Kingship from lion and mostly followed their habits and lifestyle. From centuries, Lion is the Symbol of power, Kingship and Kingdom.

African lions live in prides and all members of the pride live and move together. But Asiatic (Gir) lions are different, as they do have prides but the lioness and cubs live into groups within the pride. A pride of lions (2) consists of related females and offspring and a small number of adult males. It's social.

A pride has 18-20 members and a group has 7-8 members. The pride is ruled by a Male Lion King. It has generally two lions, mostly brothers or step brothers. The males are territorial, and will roar and use scent markings to establish their domains. They mark their territory of approximately 56 km² and guard and petrol them well. Group centre to boundary, they divide the area in two and do the patrol so the intruders don't enter. Whenever the lion come to the group, the lioness gets up and welcome him. For male lion, it's a life of Kingship for 3-5 years till another male lion takes over after a fight.

The group generally consists of two lioness (sisters or mother-daughter) and their cubs and sub adults. Within group the senior lioness is the ruler.

Groups of female lions typically hunt together, preying mostly on large ungulates. The Lions come and eat their Lion's share. If the kill is big enough, of a blue bull, the whole pride join and eat. Lioness, cubs and sub adults eat together but when Lion is eating, he eats alone. When lion is eating, the other family members keep themselves away. So the eating continue in sequence of group-lion-group, till the meat is finished.

Unlike Leopard's cunningness that kills the enemy by making hole to the trachea, Lion use power and strength using its 1 ton power blow of right forepaw to break the back of huge animal. The bones of the front legs are twisted in such a manner as to give a great range of motion to the forelimb to attack deep inside the body of the animal. It cuts or break the animal into pieces with using its nails, teeth and 2 forepaws.

With a capacity to mate for 100+ times in one round, it can mate for continuous 7 days. Without a watch, the two lions mate with the lioness, sharing time of ovulation half half equally, i.e., 3.5 days each. A lioness can deliver 1-5 cubs, but at present, it delivers 3 cubs in general.

Surprisingly, the lioness knows the father of each cub though mated with both in one ovulation cycle. They have separate bag to conceive each cub. And each one of the two fathers know their cubs with whom they express love and affection.

Before 12 days of delivery, the lioness leave apart from the group and remain away for delivery. She remains away from the group for further 2 months after delivery for the safety of the newly born cubs. However, she comes alone to the group for food. Whenever a kill is there, she will be called by another lioness by making sound.

After 2 months, she come with her cubs to introduce them to the family. And the reception is full of love and affection. The whole pride (2-3 groups) is present with its king, and when introduced the cubs to their father, the lion-cubs meeting is full of affection and love, a event of expression of joy and happiness.

Lions within a pride are often affectionate and, when resting, seem to enjoy good fellowship with lots of touching, head rubbing, licking and purring.

The male children stay in the family for 3 years. But when they are capable for mating, they have been pushed away from family. The mother stops giving them food and the uncle insults. The mausi may express sympathy and father may not will, but the adult males have to leave the family as they believe in Gotra system, in which, they can't mate with the family members of same blood. Very strong brotherhood of blood relation.

Finally, the adult males (generally two) move as intruder in search of their Kingdom. They enter into the kingdom of other lions with lifting their tail up, roaring and challenging the king. The King of the pride if not ready to fight keep the tail pressed down to hide the location or if strong enough, come out to fight. Then a big fight takes place for winning the kingdom. The King, due to his experience, techniques and power, defeat the intruders; but if the intruders are powerful, they kill the king or through him away from the prides.

The lionesses, simply watch the fight from the distance. Don't participate in the fight. But at the end of the fight, surrender their loyalty to the winner. If she has cubs, the intruder kills the cubs and eat them brutally to show their power. And the lioness instead of feeling angry with the act of killing cubs, immediately come into heat and mate with the new king to deliver new cubs of better strength. The killed cubs were from weak genes as their father was defeated. The fittest genome to survive.

An adult lioness is of 100-120 kg and adult lion will be of 140-160 kg. Spotted deer (32%), Sambhar (14%), Blue Bull (25%), wild bore (6%), Cattle (23%) are their food to sustain.

Life expectancy of lion is 10-14 years. They generally have gastrointestinal worms (hook, tape, round) as they eat raw meat. While ageing they lose their teeth and strength of killing. Many males die in fight of kingdoms.

With increase in number (524),
the territories of lions' kingdoms has been expanding from Sasan Gir to Saurastra, from 1412 km² to 22000 km² and looking to the rate of their population increase and conservation, it is most likely that we shall see lions in Ahmedabad, Sabarkantha, on river bed of River Sabarmati in 10-15 years. However Sasan will remain it's native place (Home) of Asiatic Lions. (can claim home travel always !!!).

They are not the threat to humans as they don't consider us a challenge !!!

Sasan Gir
19 July 2015

NB: It was a lucky trip to see total 49 lions at 6 locations, including one big group of 18 (2 lions, 6 lioness, 10 cubs).

One lion cub and one female leopard were released from the cages to jungle at two different locations. One can see the difference between their behavior. After all Royal remains Royal.

There are man eater leopards, huge and strong built, highly aggressive, looking dangerous, have been kept in imprisonment of cages at Devalia to save human lives.

1 comment:

Powered by Blogger.