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Lions in a pride.

A young male lion stares into the camera as an adult male lays close to him

Lions are the only cats that live in large, social groups called prides. A pride is made up of lionesses (mothers, sisters, and cousins), and their cubs, along with a few unrelated adult males. The unrelated males stay a few months or a few years, but the older lionesses stay together for life.



Shrinking Spaces

Trophy hunting has taken its toll on the top predator of the savanna. Destruction of wild habitats also means less space for lions, and more likelihood that humans and lions cross paths, leading to conflict. Lions are sometimes killed to protect herds of livestock or to keep them out of human-populated areas.



Lioness in pursuit of a zebra

While it may look like the lionesses do all the work in the pride, the males play an important role. While they eat more than the lionesses and bring in far less food (they hunt less than 10 percent of the time), males patrol, mark, and guard the pride’s territory. Males also guard the cubs while the lionesses are hunting, and make sure the cubs get enough food.

33 mph

Speed of a sprinting female lion.

Fierce Competition

Lions are Africa’s largest and most important carnivore. They keep other animal populations in check, ensuring a healthy ecosystem.



Pounds of food a lion can eat at one time.

A lioness watches over her four small cubs as they move across a green grassy area

A lioness gives birth to her cubs in a secluded location away from the pride. Cubs remain hidden for four to six weeks as they gain strength, learn to walk, and play. Females in a pride often give birth around the same time.



But humans and lions compete for food sources: bushmeat (wild game) is an important source of protein and surplus income for some locals, and hunting bushmeat causes lions and humans to encounter each other. Under these circumstances, lions often starve or are killed—sometimes accidentally, sometimes on purpose.

Male lion and female lioness press their heads against one another as they walk on dry savanna grass

Together, we can
turn things around.



Masai cattle grazing Kenyan savanna. Samburu tribeswomen.

Left: Domesticated cattle are an important part of Masai and Samburu livelihood. It's essential to help local people protect cattle and eliminate livestock as a lion food source. Right: Samburu tribeswomen.



Working Together

The problems lions face are serious, but there is hope. Conservation is cultural, and we work in the heart of local communities to find solutions that work for people and animals alike. With our partners, we are helping change deeply ingrained, often negative, cultural views of lions. In fact, some of the people who used to hunt lions are now the very rangers protecting them. We also "plant seeds for the future" by supporting local schools that educate children and connect them with wildlife.



three lion cubs playing in the sun

Cubs born in a pride are twice as likely to survive as those born to a lioness that is on her own.



Your support to the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy can provide dedicated anti-poaching patrols, ways to protect cattle and eliminate livestock as a lion food source, and ensure that the habitats humans and lions share are used in the safest, most efficient ways possible, so everyone wins. We can’t do it without your help.

Lioness sits on a dirt mound amongst tall dry savanna grass