How much do lions eat in a day? The estimated minimum daily requirement is 5 to 8.5 kilograms of meat per lioness per day. This is 11 to 19 pounds daily. I don’t have figures for male lions but they would naturally be slightly higher (however, see below because daily intake varies considerably depending on many factors).
When prey is abundant, daily intake per individual lion is high. Daily intake rates are not dependent on prey size or the size of the pride.
One study states that in the Kalahari where small ungulates and mammals make up 50% of kills, “lions were able to obtain an estimated 4.95 kilograms per individual”.
In Etosha National Park, a group of nine female lions ate 2.01 kilograms (4.43 pounds) per day per lioness. In stark contrast “a group of seven lionesses followed for nine consecutive days consumed an average of 14.43 kilograms per day per lioness”.
In times of prey scarcity on the Serengeti plains the average daily food intake is less than 3 kilograms per lioness. In good times this rises to 6 kilograms.
Large prey are preferred even by a small pride. During the dry season in Etosha National Park, when prey are scarse, pairs of lionesses consumed 12 kilograms per individual per day despite a low hunting success rate of 10%.
The next most successful group size in respect of daily intake was a group of six or seven lionesses who each ate 10.3 kilogramns daily. This was due to more successful hunting at a kill rate of 34.2%.
Solitary females don’t have to share and therefore have more for themselves. However larger groups killed larger prey and therefore had the same daily consumption rate.
Compared to other wild cat species lions are more successful hunters. Lions eat very fast to avoid losing kills to scavengers. “Lions bolt meat so rapidly that is many are present only the skeleton of a zebra may be left after 30 miutes” (Schaller).
Note: One kilogram is 2.2 pounds.
Source: Wild Cats of the World by the Sunquists. The quotes other than as stated are from the book.