Lions are the only big cat species that live in groups. These groups are family units, comprised of up to three male individuals, about a dozen females, and their offspring.
The complex world of a lion pride includes males fighting for breeding rights and lionesses hunting for the family. Male lions, especially, must be fit to survive and brave at heart to overshadow any insecurity. Territories must be established, and rulers are overthrown.
The untimely death of a male African lion is a tragic event. But there’s an untold story – the loss of this individual can snowball into a series of heartbreaking responses as his group (called a pride) reacts to his absence.
When a male lion is shot by hunters in the wild, his family pride is completely traumatized. New males may come into the group and attack the females, even killing off her young. Lionesses, in their fight for survival, may quickly leave the territory, abandon her offspring and then die alone in the wild.
National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert are working to stop the decline of lion populations with emergency action.