A male lion will always fight to protect the pride

by Richard Smith

African lion male
African lion male. Picture in public domain.
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I don’t agree with your argument that a tiger will win a lion versus tiger fight. You seem to miss some fundamental points. The female lions do all of the hunting in the pride. The males are there for one reason only – protect the pride.

All they do is fight, they have evolved purely for this purpose. The tiger, although on average in some species are larger, they are a sole hunter, with many skills, and avoids conflict due to its solitary status i.e. if it’s injured, it doesn’t eat.

A male Lion will always fight, that’s its job, the females provide the food. If a male tiger somehow impossibly appeared in the Serengeti, the females would protect the cubs and the males would attack – that’s how the pride works. Therefore, IMHO, a male lion should win – it’s what they do.

Richard Smith

Hi Richard….. thanks for making a good point that has not been made elsewhere on this page.

I don’t think though that your point necessarily tips the balance towards the lion winning.

We have to take out of the equation the good point you make about the tiger avoiding conflict because the discussion is theoretical and we must assume that both parties to the fight are willing and able to fight and are in good condition.

You say that the lion’s role is to protect the pride. That may be true but it is not referred to as far as I can see, in the best book on wild cats, at the section headed “Social Organisation”.

Young male lions try and “take over a pride of females” when they are adult. The lionesses do most of the hunting and the male lion has preference in eating the kill. It seems that the male lion is using a group of female lions as a means to improve his life. He male well protect them as the females hunt and get in the food.

The male lion protects the kill and territory. The male lion can steal kills from hyena even a large group of hyenas indicating how superior they are to hyena despite the hyena being a large predator. However, I have not seen reference to a lion deliberately and specifically protecting the lionesses of a pride in this book but suspect that you are correct.

However, “lion society is much more complex that previously imagined…” so I am not sure that your argument brings everything into play.

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