WHY DO MALE LIONS HAVE MANES?
Lions are some of the most revered and sought after mammals in Africa. No one goes to Africa on Safari without the desire to come across the king of beasts. Have you ever asked yourself, why do male lions have manes when females don’t?
- Manes play roles in intimidation, protection and communication.
- Most notably manes are used to determine the lion’s gender.
- Lions are the only big cats to have such sexual dimorphism.
- This helps often absent pride males to identify young males, and drive them out of the pride and prevents inbreeding.
- The size and colour of the mane make the lion look bigger and more intimidating, so younger lions may be less inclined in taking on an older dominant pride male, afraid of being injured by the bigger looking male!
- Probably the most important of all, the mane protects the head and neck during intense encounters between adult males.
- Most other large cat species tend to rather settle disputes with visual displays and scent-marking, and at the most extreme of situations will engage in a physical brawl.
- Lions, on the other hand, aren’t afraid to have a good go at each other, with their blows focused at each other’s heads.
- These blows are strong enough to snap large antelopes head.
- So the long dense hair of the mane ends up cushioning these blows and prevents the claws from causing too much damage to the ears, eyes and nose.