Lions are predatory carnivores. They usually hunt in groups, but the actual killing is done by an individual lion. They frequently bring down prey much bigger than they are themselves. Showy males have more difficulty hunting than females because of their conspicuousness, therefore females in a pride do the majority of hunting. Males are still more aggressive during feeding than are females, even though they are less likely to have killed the prey.
African lions eat the most common large ungulates in the area (Thompson's gazelles Eudorcas thomsonii, zebras Equus burchellii, impalas Aepyceros melampus, and wildebeests Connochaetes taurinus). Individual prides tend to have their own eating preferences. Some prides tend to target large prey such as cape buffalo Syncerus caffer and giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis. Lions that are not able to capture large prey will eat birds, rodents, fish, ostrich eggs, amphibians and reptiles. Lions also actively scavenge, taking cues from hyenas and vultures.
In Tanzania's Serengeti National Park, local lions subsist on a diet comprized mainly of 7 species: zebras Equus burchellii, wildebeests Connochaetes taurinus, Thompson's gazelles Eudorcas thomsonii, buffalos Syncerus caffer, warthogs Phacochoerus aethiopicus, hartebeests Alcelaphus buselaphus, and topis Damaliscus lunatus provide 90% of their diet.
Hunting effectiveness is increased by hunting in groups. Serengeti research has shown that individual lions succeed in their hunting 17% of the time, whereas group hunts succeed 30% of the time.
Animal Foods: birds; mammals; amphibians; reptiles; fish; eggs; carrion
Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates)