Lions – The King of the Jungle – Big 5 Animals – and Number of People Killed By Lions

Charging Buffalos and Lions

It’s a myth that the moment you land on any of the eastern Africa airports you will immediately encounter charging buffalos and lions ready to make a meal out of you. It’s a myth that will be fed to you because travel and tourism industry in eastern Africa is mainly an investment of the powerful and mighty American and European businessmen who may want the whole thing to look curious to entice more of their country men and women to like the eastern Africa tourism destination. The truth is that Nairobi airport is right in the middle of NairobiGamePark but you will not see a single animal not until you have been taken around the country side as this is what makes good business sense.

Big 5 Animals.

In eastern Africa, you will most likely spot all of the big five animals. The big five animals are the most dangerous animal that can kill you at will if they so wish. The big five game are the lion, the African elephant, the Africa Buffalo, the leopard and the rhinoceros, either the black rhinoceros or the white rhinoceros. They are classified big five animals based on the difficulty in hunting them and not on the number of people they kill. The 6 most dangerous big animals based on the number of people they kill are the man himself, the crocodile, the hippopotamus, the buffalo, the elephant, and the hyena.  The lion, who is the king of the jungle, or the king of the beasts, is a cool cat who does not like interfering with man, not until when man threatens his life and that of his babies.

Male Lion showing manes - one of the big 5 animals that is the most dangerous.Image credit: yaaaay , Wikimedia commons
Male Lion showing manes - one of the big 5 animals that is the most dangerous.Image credit: yaaaay , Wikimedia commons
African Elephant - classified as one of the big 5 animals based on the difficulty in it. Image Credit: Rob Hooft, Wikimedia commons
African Elephant - classified as one of the big 5 animals based on the difficulty in it. Image Credit: Rob Hooft, Wikimedia commons
African Buffallo - one of the biggest killer of humans. A member of the big 5 game. Image Credit: Mabula Game Reserve, Wikimedia commons
African Buffallo - one of the biggest killer of humans. A member of the big 5 game. Image Credit: Mabula Game Reserve, Wikimedia commons
Leopard - a member of big 5 game. Difficult to hunt this cat. Image Credit: JanErkamp, Wikimedia commons
Leopard - a member of big 5 game. Difficult to hunt this cat. Image Credit: JanErkamp, Wikimedia commons
White Rhinoceros - a member of big 5 animals. very difficult to hunt. Image Credit: Princess.Tilly, Wikimedia commons
White Rhinoceros - a member of big 5 animals. very difficult to hunt. Image Credit: Princess.Tilly, Wikimedia commons

The hyena

Whilst the lion is the king of the jungle, the most cowardly animal in the jungle is the hyena. The hyena is an ugly, vicious scavenger of whose jaws are as twice as powerful as those of a lion. A hyena is a scavenger because it does not mainly kill other animals for its food, but prefers to feed on what has remained of other hunts. The truth is a hyena, with its powerful jaws, can beat a lion again and again only if it the hyena can gain courage and intelligence to do so. But these animals, just like a dog or a cat, can learn new tricks. It is no wonder you may find a hyena doing bad things that you may not want to disclose to other people. For example, a hyena has the capability to learn that digging six feet deep of fresh graves is sufficient to get something to scavenge. It is no wonder to find hyenas who are grave diggers in cemeteries. The thing is: wild animals are capable of learning new tricks and they always do learn them.

Lions Kills more than 120 People in Eastern African Region

The lions are cool cats but nevertheless the lions still kill more than 120 people per year in the entire eastern African region. But man, using crude weapons, kills more than 120 lions per year in the entire eastern African region.

The lion is the second largest cat after the tiger. A male lion will weigh about 250 kilos and the females will weigh about 180 kilos. The lifespan of a lion is about 15 years. Males have a slightly lower lifespan of about 10 years due to frequent battles with other rival males. A family grouping of lions is called a pride of lions and will usually consist of related female lions and their offspring and a few adult males. The male lion is easily identified by its mane. The female lion is called a lioness. A lioness will give birth to two to four litters called cubs. The cubs are born blind. The gestation period is 110 days. The cubs are usually kept in a den which is a thicket away from the pride. The mother will usually take leave to look after the cubs. The threat to cubs is predation by jackals, cheetahs, hyenas, snakes, and deliberate stampede by buffalos. If a new male conquer a pride, then all the cubs of that pride will have to be killed by him so that he can be left with lionesses without children. He then picks his dames and goes ahead and makes new babies of his own which he can take care of. Usually, more than 75% of cubs do not make it past 2 years. Hyenas and cheetahs are the ones who kills the lion’s cubs.

Female lion - take note of the sharp teeth that can instantly slice your flesh.Image credit: Mila Zinkova, Wikimedia commons
Female lion - take note of the sharp teeth that can instantly slice your flesh.Image credit: Mila Zinkova, Wikimedia commons

Female Lions - Good in Hunting

Most of the hunting is done by the female lions since they are lighter and faster. A male’s job is to provide protection to the pride. The best catches are preserved for him. In water, a lion is an easy meal for a crocodile, whilst on land the crocodile is an easy meal for the lion. A lion will eat about seven kilos of meat per day, but he still can over-eat up to 30 kilos of meat. A man with a weight of 70 kilos has enough muscles to feed a pride of 10 lions.

Man-eater lions can go door to door looking for humans

A question is usually asked as to how you would escape death if you lived in a mud hut in Maasai Mara and man-eater lions are going door to door looking for humans to feed on? This question may seems as if its misplaced, but the truth is a lion, or even a hyena, can learn just like a dog, how to break into a mud house and purposely get you out of that hut as a meal. I have a domestic cat which is a pet that will never eat uncooked raw meat or drink un-boiled milk. Over the time, that cat has learnt that meat and milk has to be cooked before it can have them for a meal. It does so because I trained it and the cat got used to it. If a domestic cat can learn to demand cooked meat and milk, then a lion can also learn how to kill and feed on humans who relatively have soft muscles rather than feed on tough muscles from buffalos and zebras.

The hyena - has very strong jaws. 75% of hyenas deaths is due to being killed by lions. Image Credit: D. Gordon E. Robertson, Wikimedia commons
The hyena - has very strong jaws. 75% of hyenas deaths is due to being killed by lions. Image Credit: D. Gordon E. Robertson, Wikimedia commons

Man-Eater Lions of Tsavo

Lions are cool cats that do not usually hunt human as prey, but exceptions are there where a lion will learn to be a man eater. In 1898, just a few years after the abolition of slave trade in eastern Africa, the British had few options other than to put a railway line running across Kenya into Uganda. Her majesty Queen Victoria had to send a high ranking military soldier, Engr. Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson, to ensure the railway line was constructed through Tsavo, with or without lions. Engr. Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson had picked hundreds of well bodied Indians from India to provide semi-skilled labour in the construction of the railway line. It is while the team was alone right deep inside the jungle that two lions realized that they were having teeth decay problems and needed to be feeding on softer meals made of human flesh. For a period of four weeks these two lions fed on 28 Indians. This would translate to one person per day and since a lion needs 7 kilos of meat per day, then one person was more than sufficient to feed the two lions. Whatever remained must have been eaten by hyenas. It seems these Tsavo lions must have been going door to door every night. Each night, for 28 nights, these Indians construction workers must have gone to bed knowing very well that one of them was to make that night’s meal for the lions. Engr. Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson was well trained in guns and had many guns. After four weeks, Patterson was lucky to kill the two lions and construction of railway line continued.

A Mane is a Symbol of Authority

One thing that was peculiar about these two lions is that they were old males who did not have manes. A mane is used as a symbol of authority to the other lions and lacking manes may have denied them the leadership of their prides. With their heavy weights and lack of hunting females may have made the two lions turn into scavenging which latter graduated into hunting of humans.

What would make a lion become a man eater? When a lions turns into scavenging, chances are that it will encounter human corpses and once it feeds on a dead person, conversion into a man-eater is as good as complete.

Lioness - she has no manes. She does most of the work in a pride. Image credit: Falense , Wikimedia commons
Lioness - she has no manes. She does most of the work in a pride. Image credit: Falense , Wikimedia commons

Sacred Bushes, Spirits and Gods

In some human communities, they have sacred bushes where spirits and gods live. But be warned: whatever my community does, that’s what it does and you should not question it. Whatever your community does, that’s what it does and I should not question it. Having agreed on that, I believe I should tell you a little more about sacred bushes, spirits and gods. If you fall sick, you are attended by a medicine man and he will give you medicine until you recover from ill health. If your case is serious, you are attended by a team of medicine men – they can be three or four medicine men. They will treat you for a couple of days but if your illness become worse, they will leave hurriedly but not without passing the word that your illness should be handled by spirits and gods. This is to ensure your disease is not passed on to other members of the community.

Medicine Men

It’s not everyone who can enter-in or step-on the sacred bushes. The elders, after the medicine men have made their verdict, will come and pick you together with dry food sufficient to last someone for a couple of days. You will then be put in the sacred bushes with the dry food besides you. In addition, they will tie you to a long, long rope. This rope will extend far out from the sacred bushes. Every morning, your people will pull the rope slightly to confirm if you are still alive. If the rope is tight, it means you are still alive and more food supply should be availed to a place near you but hidden such that the one supplying the food should not come face to face with you. If your disease is healed, then you will comfortably come back home. If in one of those fine mornings, your family was to find the rope loose, it means the spirits and the gods have taken you and that chapter is closed. And life goes on. The women will give birth to babies and at least one baby will be named after you if already they have not done so.

The Corpse

On the other end of the sacred bushes may be where those who die at home are put so that the spirits and gods can take them. Since there are very few activities that goes on in the sacred bushes, hyenas and wild dogs will usually find it an ideal place with sufficient food to be scavenged. In the real sense, the hyenas and wild dogs are the ones acting as the spirits and gods in the sacred bushes.

Cries of Hyenas Feeding

More than 70% of hyena’s deaths are by lions even though lions do not feed on hyenas. Old lions or hungry lions will more often than not try to feed by stealing kills from hyenas. The lions are quick to follow the calls and cries of hyenas feeding. If therefore, hyenas were to have their crying calls of feeding in the sacred bushes, then no doubt the lions will come and take over the meal. The meal is a human corpse and when the lions finish with that particular meal, the lions will have learnt one very important lesson. They will have learnt that human can also be preyed upon and sooner they will be hunting human beings in all manner of styles.

The Lions can Learn

In Savuti River, Botswana, lions were one season very hungry, and felt it was appropriate to prey on a baby elephant. They succeed. Soon, they preyed on all the calves. Next they moved to adolescent elephants and before very long they were preying on adults elephants weighing more than 4 tonnes at will.

The question is: can man-eater lions move from door to door of mud huts looking for human beings to eat? The answer is “yes” and they will do it in such a precision that they will leave no doubt that they know exactly what they are looking for.

The lions can go from door to door of mud huts looking for human beings to eat but that does not stop man being their greatest enemy. Yes, man himself is lion’s greatest enemy.

The Maasai People

The eastern African savanna is dominated by the Maasai people who are nomadic people who move from one area to another looking for green pasture for their cattle. The Maasai people are one people who preferred to say no to the influence of people from western countries. Instead the Maasai preferred to remain with their natural stone-age culture. The wealth of a Maasai man is computed in the number of cattle, number of children and number of wives one has. He is not ready to compromise on any of these three items – it’s all a matter of life and death in the true sense of the word.

Natural Shields, Spears and Clubs

An average Maasai man has 200 cattle, 20 children and three wives. With a market value of $500 per animal, the guy may have a net value of $100,000 on cattle alone whilst still being considered by some people as a stone-age man. By selling one animal, the Maasai man can easily buy a good gun from the Somali pirates. But he doesn’t need those items that have anything to do with the modern man. He prefers to use his natural shields, spears and clubs for his defense.

A Rite of Passage

For a Maasai boy to become a man, he has to undergo circumcision. The culture also dictates that the man has to undergo lion hunting which according to the Maasai’s culture is a ritual as well as symbolically a rite of passage. To the Maasai warriors, hunting a lion is traditional, it’s fun, and is extremely dangerous, and should only be done when women are not aware. Animal conservationists are never amused by this traditional hunting of lions by these people. But what will they do? This lion hunting exercise is actually a natural learning process of how one should handle the Masai’s greatest enemy which is the lion.

Lions Feeding - The Lions can feed on Masai cattle as well. Image credit: http://www.galuzzi.it, Wikimedia commons
Lions Feeding - The Lions can feed on Masai cattle as well. Image credit: http://www.galuzzi.it, Wikimedia commons

Can a Masai be Eaten by a Lion?

Can a Masai be eaten by a lion? Why not? The battle is either you win or you lose. There is no other option. If a warrior kills a lion by himself, he immediately becomes a very important man in that community who will be widely consulted when major decisions are to be made.

Droughts

In the eastern African savanna, droughts can be extremely severe. It is in view of this that the Maasai people will have to move with their animals in search of green grazing lands. They will get the grass alright but they will have to battle hundreds of charging lions waiting for the livestock that have arrived. The truth is that there is no Maasai man who will stand and watch a lion feed on his cattle. Never! Armed with a spear, club and a shield, the battle will start, and it will be fought until either the Maasai lose the battle or the lion will lose the battle. There is no other option.

Masai Mara and Man-Eater Lions

The question is: if you were to be living in a grass mud hut in Masai Mara and man-eater lions were going round from door to door looking for humans to feed on, what would you do to survive?

What you need do is get hold of a spear, a shield and a club, and be prepared to fight the lion like a masai warrior.

The Battle may have been lost. Killing a lion may earn you ten years in jail regardless of how many cattle you have lost to lions.
The Battle may have been lost. Killing a lion may earn you ten years in jail regardless of how many cattle you have lost to lions.
The Maasai Warriors - the lion's biggest enemy is man himself.If a warrior kills a lion by himself, he immediately becomes a very important man in that community who will be widely consulted when major decisions are to be made.
The Maasai Warriors - the lion's biggest enemy is man himself.If a warrior kills a lion by himself, he immediately becomes a very important man in that community who will be widely consulted when major decisions are to be made.

Can One Keep a Lion as a Pet?

Can one keep a lion as a pet? You can but you will need no less than $40 per day to provide it with meat alone. You also need to be careful of the other people living in your neighbourhood. The lion can feed on them without giving you a notice. It can also get charged and forgetting you are the one who owns it, it will make you an instant meal. If you like, you can breed a male lion with a female tiger to produce a liger. Breeding a female lion with a male tiger will produce a tigon. Similarly, crossing a lion with a leopard will produce a leopon whilst jaglion will be produced by breeding with a jaguar.

Lions Kill about 600 People

Worldwide, the lions kill about 600 people per year. This is a very small number compared to other killers like mosquitoes who kills millions of people per year. Next time you hear the myth that the moment you land on any of the eastern Africa airports you will immediately encounter charging buffalos and lions ready to make a meal out of you - have the understanding that the greatest threat to mankind in that part of the world is mosquitoes and malaria, and not charging lions and buffaloes.

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Comments 15 comments

amulets profile image

amulets 6 years ago from Singapore

Thanks for the hub. It will be nice having lion as a pet but thinking that you can be their meals makes you think twice. Wondering if lion is still the King of the jungle.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

I learned so much from your wel written hub. I enjoyed reading it. Thank you so very much and looking forward to the next one. Don't stop writing.


Magical Safaris 6 years ago from Mtwapa, Mombasa, Kenya

In Kenya only 2.000 lions are left in the wild. The original number of lions were at least 10.000.

The K.W.S. is making great efforts to educate the Masai tribe, and plans are made for a better preservation in Kenya's Wildlife Sanctuaries.

Will it help?

The number of lions seems to be stable now.

Thank you for your hub, pleasant reading.


stars439 profile image

stars439 6 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

Love your hub. God Bless


blackhatworld profile image

blackhatworld 6 years ago from Belize

This is great information. Just what I was looking for. Thanks so much and good luck with your Hubpage. Great photos too!


Tim Swift 5 years ago

Great photos and very interesting information. I like nature of Africa!! Once I've took part in Safari...oh, it was amazing!

p.s. Thanks http://www.opulentafrica.com/ for the best holidays!


brentvdw 5 years ago

Great work!


philipandrews188 profile image

philipandrews188 5 years ago

Excellent and fantastic hub! I love those photos of lions.


borneo profile image

borneo 4 years ago from Austria

Great hub, thanks! African wildlife is truly amazing!


Leviso profile image

Leviso 4 years ago from Nairobi

Lovely and informative. Enjoyed reading one of my favourite topics - wildlife.


cuttler profile image

cuttler 3 years ago from HubPages

Nice detailed hub. This brings me back to the time last year when lions wreaked havoc in the kajiodo area of nairobi and Masai morans killed more than five of them.


tastiger04 profile image

tastiger04 3 years ago

Interesting hun! I am very fond of African animals....this was a good read :) Nice photos too...voted up and interesting


lyndapringle profile image

lyndapringle 21 months ago from Austin, Texas

This article about the life of the lions and their interaction with the Massai people was fascinating. The blog went into detail about the role and lives of the lion and their general preference of prey and why they do end up eating humans at times. The Massai have a very difficult time of it as they must sometimes kill lions to protect their cattle or to prove their manhood rite of passage but yet, this cultural traditions, can put them in jail for ten long years which is not fair.

I also enjoyed reading about how the hyenas are cowards at heart. They really are-their strength is only through groups. The author did a good job of discussing the man-eating Tsavo lions who were dangers to those building the Kenyan railroad back in the 1800s. Two Tsavo lions caused most of the damage but one brave engineer was able to kill them. But it must be remembered that humans are not lions' natural choice of prey unless they are the only ones around or their teeth are in decay.

I also enjoyed seeing the multiple, beautiful pictures of the wildlife. Thank you for such an informative article.


Murali 21 months ago

Sorry to disappoint you, but I have solid proof to show that the lion is not ' king of the jungle'.

As part of my thesis, I traveled to Africa and walked up to the lion with my mic and asked him 'Sir, are you the king of the jungle'. Immediately, the lion started to chase me and I ran away for dear life. That led me to conclude that he did not like the question and therefore he does not agree with it. Hence proved.

Yours truly,

Murali Rajendran


lyndapringle profile image

lyndapringle 21 months ago from Austin, Texas

Great informative article about the lions. I also have a variety of information about them as they are one of my favorite breeds and I keep up with the research. People have this misconception that lions will attack humans at will but that is not usually the case. For example, on African safaris, lions are used to the vehicles and photographs and will allow themselves to be photographed. They don't mess with the people or become aggressive. Certainly, I would not be want to be walking alone among a pride of lions but I'd be more scared of the hyenas than the lions who may not bother humans if they are not hungry.

I do agree that, in instances that lions eat humans, it is because they have developed a taste for them and it just takes one human kill for them to develop this taste. The Tsavo lions are the worst of the man eaters.

I feel sorry for the Masai people who rely on their cattle to earn a living. The lions are their true enemy as they often encroach upon their cattle as do the other big cats. I do not think it is fair that they go to jail for 10 years simply for defending their livelihood. As for their rite of passage in lion killing, I think it is necessary for them to receive this training so that they will learn how to defend their cattle against the lions. However, I have been reading articles in which the environmentalists have been working with the Masai to find alternative methods to keep away from the lions.

Lions are truly a beautiful breed and I hope to one day see them at an African safari. Thank you for this most interesting article.

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