How Did The Lion Become The King Of Beasts?
On paper, panthera leo does not have much to qualify it for this esteemed position. The tiger is stronger and larger, the cheetah is faster, and some say the leopard is handsomer, yet the lion reigns supreme at the top of the food chain.
With a long history dating back many millennia it seems that lion has walked alongside man throughout the ages, following the same path of homo-sapiens from East African origins throughout Africa, Eurasia and North America. So it seems only logical that lions have always been the most powerful creature known to man, and hence their elevated status in our estimation.
Lions were once the most populous predator on earth, managing to roll with every ecological punch thrown at them and adapting along the way to survive under numerous circumstances, from dense thickets to deserts. They have mastered the science of 'power in numbers', choosing a gregarious social structure above the solitary lives of their feline relatives.
More family members, mean more claws and fangs for defence, and more hunters out in the field means these cats can bring down bigger meals more often – although they do have to share. No other predator will dare to pick a buffalo from its herd, or attack a stately giraffe, yet lions can and do hunt these large herbivores. Almost every animal is fair game to a hungry pride of lions and they have even been known to take on elephants from time to time.
Despite their hunting prowess, the royal family is not averse to dining on the table scraps of others and will scavenge during lean times. They conserve energy by lying around during the heat of the day recharging their batteries, hunting under cover of night or during the cooler parts of early morning and evening.
All these factors contribute to the male lion's longstanding role as the ultimate monarch of the wilderness. One who spends his days lording it over a bevy of willing warrior princesses, with nothing to fear but the one who named him 'King of Beasts'.