Why Was He All Alone?
A recent sighting of a lone young male lion around the Nkorho Pan brought a question with him...why was he alone? This young male had been chased out of his pride by a known male coalition. We spotted him wandering, hoping to find his pride before the coalition found him again. These coalitions will battle it out with others to establish dominance over a territory and a pride. As other males mature and leave their prides, new coalitions are established, bringing more challenges and fighting for dominance. We can see in the video that this young male has the beginnings of a mane. It will take awhile for it to fully grow, and when it does its appearance will depend on the health, habitat and testosterone levels of the lion. A general rule of thumb is the larger and fuller the mane, the healthier the lion is. The mane helps him look larger and more intimidating when he goes into battle, and will darken in color as he ages. Lions are the only members of the cat family to have obvious physical differences, the male with the mane, the female without. The lion mane is a respected trait throughout the animal kingdom. Perhaps the most distinctive characteristic shared by both females and males is that the tail ends in a hairy tuft. In some lions, the tuft conceals a hard "spine" or "spur," approximately 5 millimeters long, formed of the final sections of tail bone fused together. The lion is the only member of the cat family to have a tufted tail, its function is unknown. Absent at birth, the tuft develops around 5½ months of age and by 7 months of age is readily identifiable. Maybe the next time we see this lion, he will have found his place with other males, and will have a full mane that declares his dominance.