How big can lion prides be?

This is a good picture from a video of 15 out of 22 lions from a ‘mega pride’ drinking from a pond. A pride of twenty-two lions is a good size. The person who captured the video says that some prides can go over 20 individuals that when they are called mega prides. The big challenge for the camera operator was to get all the lions in the picture at the same time. The photographer was amazed. They said: “It was an amazing sight to see such an incredible number of lions, quenching their thirst, out in the African wild. It was astounding.”

Clearly, on the ground so to speak, large lion prides are fairly unusual although the experts say that they can be as large as 30 depending on the circumstances. The largest in the Serengeti was 35. Please read on.

RELATED: How much water do lions drink?

15/22 lions from a mega pride drinking at a pond
15/22 lions from a mega pride drinking at a pond. Please click on the link to see a larger version. This is a screenshot from a video.
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My reference book on the topic, Wild Cats of the World tells me some interesting facts about lion prides:

  1. In the prey-rich Serengeti woodlands lion prides have territories of about 65 square kilometres (say 10 kilometres by 6.5 kilometres). The availability of prey affects the area over which lion prides need to roam to find prey and it affects the size of the prides. Less prey animals means that prides need 185 square kilometres to live.
  2. Prides in the Serengeti woodlands usually have around 20 individuals;
  3. On the less prey-rich plains there are around 13 lions per pride;
  4. The largest recorded pride in Serengeti (at 2002) was 35 lions;
  5. The size of 14 prides in the Serengeti increased between 1966-1977 when the prey biomass (the total weight of prey animals) increased;
  6. Pride size in Etosha is smaller than in East Africa with an average of 7 individuals, made up, on average, by 1.8 males and 4.8 females;
  7. In the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, pride size was estimated to be 4.2;
  8. The average number of adult females in a pride is 4-5 (range 1-11).

Note: Lions prides are composed of related females, their offspring, and subadult male offspring. Do lions eat other lions? Yes sometimes as in the case of the Mapogo coalition of lions. National Geographic wrote of an impressive 26-strong lion pride in the Kruger National Park. Clearly this is at the top end of lion pride size. The 35-lion pride mentioned above was unique it seems.

Kruger lions and tourists
Kruger lions and tourists. Photo: video screenshot. This is a large pride.

Below are some more articles on lions.

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