Lion Dynamics | Lions South Africa | Madikwe Hills BLog Menu

Lions Dynamics in Madikwe Game Reserve

By Madikwe Hills on April 17, 2023

If you’re planning a once-in-a-lifetime African safari and are looking for an up-close look at the majestic and powerful lions that roam the continent, you’ve come to the right place! We’ll explore lion pride dynamics and behaviors, diving deep into how these social creatures interact with each other and their surroundings. From the roles of different members of a pride to strategies they use to thrive in the wild, you’ll gain insight into these complex and fascinating creatures.

What is a pride of lions?

A typical pride of lions consists of roughly six related females, a coalition of two or three unrelated males and their offspring.

Prides are described as being fission-fusion societies – which means pride members might not always be found together. Mother’s and their young cubs stick together while males are often spotted on patrol of their territory. Female offspring are most often recruited into their mother’s pride while young males will leave the pride around adolescence to form their own coalitions with other males.

Lions are incredibly social creatures and you’ll often see them displaying affection by grooming one another, sleeping close together and rough and tumbling with cubs. All of these are ways in which lion prides maintain tight bonds necessary for collaborative hunting, territory defense and keeping the pride strong.

Lion King? Or Lion Queen?

Lion societies revolve around pride females. Lionesses and their offspring form the bulk of the pride and lionesses have important roles which include hunting, giving birth to, raising and defending their cubs. Females do however require protection from pride males who defend females and young cubs from outside rogue males which are often young, nomadic sub-adults trying to take over a pride for themselves.

The typical stereotype of the male lion is that of the ‘King of the Jungle’ – and for many first time visitors to Africa, the image that immediately comes to mind is that of a ferocious, muscular creature. So you might be surprised to learn that males don’t contribute much to their pride. You’ll most often find them lazing about in the sun, grooming other males in their coalition and paroling their territory in defense of other rogue males. Their job is mainly to protect their pride from outsiders.

Who does the hunting?

There is a short and a long answer to this question and it is worth getting to the reasoning behind the answer. Pride females do most of the hunting for the pride. They serve to provide for their protective males and offspring and there is even a pecking order within the pride when males are present. Males feed first, often allowing the cubs to join or feed after the males have had their share and then the females are often left to fight over the remains, leaving them hungry and often required to hunt again. In general terms, lionesses provide for the pride and the males protect it.

However, things do get more complicated than this. Especially when you consider young males forced to leave the safety of their mothers pride and become nomadic, be it in small coalitions, or lone young males. These young lions are forced to fend for themselves – often scavenging from less powerful predators and hunting for themselves. These males also do not yet have their full mane, allowing them better camouflage than a fully grown male lion.

Adult males within a pride setup are also needed to take down larger prey. Buffalo, giraffe and elephants have been recorded being hunted by males and females – where the males’ strength is required and certainly an asset in this regard. In these types of hunting situations, males don’t rely on stealth, but rather present themselves to the herd in a game of chess where both parties wait for the other to make a mistake – and if the prey falters, then the males will go in for the kill.

So in short, yes males do hunt. They are incredible hunters in their own right – stealthy, agile, quick and clever. They are powerful and determined and as they get older they carry experience with them that is difficult to contend with.

Best Place for Lion Safaris in South Africa

When you are next sitting on a game viewing vehicle in Madikwe Game Reserve, take a minute and ponder the lifestyles of these magnificent creatures of Africa. Their particular roles and the dynamic that makes up pride living is a careful balancing act of survival where only the strongest prevail.

Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa’s North-West Province is an excellent destination to see lions in the wild. Twice daily game drives with expert guides who know the terrain intimately offer the best chance of seeing lions on safari. Be sure to communicate your wishlists with our guiding team and they will do everything in their power to help you tick off your bucket list sightings.

We look forward to welcoming you to Madikwe Hills!

For bookings and enquiries please contact or enquire online.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *