The paradox and unusualness of the lion

The lion is the most famous cat in the world (with the tiger) and at the same time the least typical member of the cat family. While other cat species are solitary hunters, the lion is a cooperative group hunter or at least the lionesses are. Male lions like to hunt alone in denser vegetation using the stalk and ambush technique whereas lionesses, as you've seen in video, cooperate with wing lionesses and a central lioness when chasing prey.

Male lions in a coalition. Photo: Daily Mail. These are black maned lions. The dark mane is attractive to females.
Male lions in a coalition. Photo: Daily Mail. These are black maned lions. The dark mane is attractive to females.

This difference in the behaviour of the female and male lion is also shown in the quite stark difference between the male and female in terms of appearance. Most cats do not have great gender differences in appearance. 

There will be size differences but other than that they look very similar. But with lions the huge mane of the male sets him apart from the maneless female (some females have manes). Lionesses prefer males with dark manes. They presumably sense that they are more likely to have better genes and more able to create a healthy family.

Black knob at the end of a lion's tail and a cub who wants to play with it. Photo: Pinterest.
Black knob at the end of a lion's tail and a cub who wants to play with it. Photo: Pinterest.

And unusualness about the lion is that it is the only cat species to have a knob-like tuft of dark hair at the tip of its tail.

The paradox of the lion is that it is both the most popular animal in the world or at least in the top three. It is also the most admired with the tiger and yet trophy hunters seek to destroy it for their entertainment. And the rarer the individual lion the keener trophy hunters are to shoot it dead. It's a great paradox that there is both admiration and the desire to destroy present in the minds of these people at the same time.

And it also appears that the lion is both in the top 10 of animals loved and hated. It is loved because of its power, courage, aggressivity, dignified bearing and handsome appearance but it is also hated because it is a killer of nice animals, pleasant animals such as antelopes and zebra. The lion is a brilliant killer with huge amounts of aggressivity.

Our admiration for the lion is tinged by a fear of its ability to kill. The general consensus is that the lion wins in a lion versus tiger fight but genuine fights between these species are rare because they live in different parts of the world.

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