Below you will find a selection of articles written by Gulamabbas Mohamedali, a correspondent and columnist of the Tanzanian Sunday News. Please note that the articles include the opinion of the author which might not always reflect the opinion of Bushdrums.com.
Bushdrums.com would like to thank our member "Pippa" for researching and providing us with all this information.
- Lions: Friendly but dangerous
- The Greeting Among Lions
- Efficient Killers; Lazy Hunters
- Lions Maths
- Lions Playtime
- Animals' Sleeping habbits vary
- Lions yawn when they are lying down
With his spectacular mane, majestic appearance, huge amber eyes and terrible roar, the lion is the symbol of animal power and nobility. King of the savannah, a lion can be tremendously ferocious and surprisingly gentle.
Threatened by poachers, it is the most fascinating of the great cats. For lions in Africa there are many dangers threatening their existence. Unfortunately the greatest of these dangers is man himself. The biggest threat to lions comes from poachers who hunt the lions for various monetary gains. Further more, during periods of droughts the survival of cubs is limited due to the shortage of food, which means the weakest lose out i.e. the cubs.
In good seasons, in the wild, lion cubs stand a 30-40 per cent chance of survival. In captivity this survival rate is raised from 70-100 per cent. Our main goal is to preserve the lion for future generations of Africa.
A lion at the height of his glory, rising in the high grasses with his nose to the wind, is a magnificent sight. Its power comes from its average weight of 420 pounds with a height of four feet at the shoulder and a length of 10 feet from the tip of its nose to the tip of its tail.
But lions vary in size from region to region. South African lions are larger than their East African cousins and females are 20-50 per cent lighter and sleeker than males. Sexual dimorphism is therefore more pronounced than in other felines.
The mane is strictly a male attribute and gives lion their majestic aura. It varies greatly in color from light yellow to dark brown, bordering on black. In five- or six-year-old lions, a mane can be nine inches long.
It acts almost like a fencing mask, absorbing paw swipes aimed at the head and neck during fights between rivals. While fur coloring is genetically determined in most mammals, a lion’s mane can get darker or paler with age, or lose sections after a wound. Not all males are equal.
Only some males develop a long, thick mane. In certain regions such as the Ngorongoro Crater and Kalahari Desert, black-maned males are not uncommon.
Studies on the impact of the size and colour of mane on the social studies and reproductive success of lions are currently under way. Mock lions with light or dark, and more or less dense manes are presented to animals in the wild.
The males tested are more diffident towards the ‘toys’ with long manes while females seemed to be more sexually attracted to dark manes. Researchers are also trying to determine the impact of inherited genes and diet on manes.
Since most of the young males studied leave the survey area before reaching adulthood, it is particularly difficult to compare the manes of fathers and their offspring. Furthermore, paternity can only be determined with certainty through DNA testing. For all these reasons, most of this research is carried out mainly on animals in captivity.
A lion’s head is very large, almost rectangular ending in a large, rounded muzzle equipped with powerful jaws. The teeth reflect the animal’s adaptation to the life of a predator. The lions’ powerful canines (2.5 inches long in average in males) are slightly curved and very pointed, equally useful for gripping prey and fighting.
The molars are used to grind chunks of meat. Its teeth can determine a lion’s age. The sharp creamy - white canines of young lions gradually become blunt and break with age. As the animals grow older, the canines take on a yellowish colour and later become caramel brown.
The iris of the eyes varies in colour from golden yellow to brown.
Paws are massive and powerful, with retractable claws designed to grip prey, and in the case of females and lighter cubs, to climb trees.
The tail ends in a tuft of dense black fur that hides a spur shaped horny growth, up to a half inch in length. By swishing its tail, the lion tries to drive away flies, its worst enemies. Tail movements also express anger and grumpiness.
At around seven to eight years old, the male is at his maximum strength. He can expect to live another few years at the head of a pride if all goes well. By now, Sandile is three years and five months old and had decided to go back to his den (after three months of interval) I just had to confirm with the senior game warden about my visit and if it was fine for him. Upon arrival at the range having met Gerhald we didn’t want to waste time because of winter, it used to get dark earlier, as at the same time we respected their territory which they patrolled once its stats getting darker and they would be roaring.
What actually happens is that in that ranch there are six lion holding pans of different age groups in them. So, when the lion of one pan roars, meaning that ‘I am here in my territory!’ The lions from the other pans too would answer the call by roaring meaning: ‘I too am here in my territory.’
And the roaring goes on for quite some time. I too have learnt to mimic the roar and do get the reply (the difference being my roar doesn’t go that far, unlike the original roar, which could be heard till a distance of 5km). This time, we entered together into the den. Sandile wasn’t far away from the entrance. He didn’t look happy at all. I approached him to where he was and squatted next to him my whole body touching his.
I kept my left hand on his nap and what he did was, with his front right limb he put around my left foot which was next to him on his right side. With that move, I was surprised but nothing crossed my head at that time. The only thing, which I noticed was that whenever I held him, he was snarling (making certain sounds).
I took a couple of shots with him, and then Gerhald told me we should get out immediately as it was quite risky being with Sandile at that moment.
As I moved away from him, and asked Gerhald how come Sandile is behaving weird today? And that’s when he told me that in the range there was one male lion around eight years old and adjacent to it was his son of four years and were separated, by just a line of fence which was electrified but no alarm connected.
All this time these two would try to demonstrate that one was stronger than the other. One night came when the father decided to climb the fence and jump into his son’s pan. The fence was 2.4-metre high and bedded in a concrete layer at the base.
The father lion cut off the electric strand, which ran across the fence which is used for keeping the lions off the fence area by an impulse of shock, and jumped into the sons pan, and the son too was waiting for the father.
The son bit in the head and killed the father. The skull is kept for display. Because of this, there was some kind of commotion in the whole of the range. Lions are unpredictable. They can turn unto you any moment!
THE greeting among the lions unlike the lionesses is such that when a lion passes next to a lion sitting, the former will lower his head and the later one will either move or project its head forward approving the greeting.
Lions rarely take an initiation of greeting a lioness. When a male returns to the pride after a long absence, he is often greeted by the head rubbing which is quite rough.
The identity card within the prides is recognised by the order given off by a secretion from the skin above the lion's eyes that is exchanged when the lions rub their head together. The bond between all pride members is through their greeting.
After greeting they usually start grooming each other. This is usually performed with the help of licking, using the tongue. The tongue of a lion is covered in horned papillae helps in gripping food, remove dust, lick blood and kill parasites. Unlike lionesses, lions like the faces and not other parts of the body. Lionesses thoroughly clean their cubs. Females clean more frequently each other.
When food becomes scarce, the relationship among the pride gets aggressive. The lionesses of the pride pass a lot of time together as they are all cousin hence there is no dominance between females of the pride.
Lions adapt anywhere as long as they can find water where as females of the pride pass a lot of time together, since they are all related.
I was already missing Sandile to greater extent and was feeling very bad inside me. Since the Gab lion park was close to where I was (25km), I used to visit frequently and would watch the lions through the fence. Since Jimmy new about my craziness about lions as I had already been in the territory of his lions much before, he directed me to a place that was hundred and eighty four km from his place toward North West province of South Africa, one Km from the village Otospot on the left to a place called Inkaya Nkalamo.
This place was a lion breeding place somehow similar to Sundown Ranch. Jimmy the owner of Gab Lion Park use to get his lion cubs from this place. Me and my family decided to visit this place.We left early and by noon we were there. Upon entering the area, having paid the gate fees, we parked the car and walked to the office.
While walking to the office we saw more than 12 cubs of age 18 to 16 weeks on the ground. Some were lazing around while some were playing with each other.The lion cubs chasing and trying to catch each other as they would hunt their prey. Along with this there were carcals, lynx, monkeys , tortoises in holiday pans. Since it was my first visit to this place, and hopping that I would see lions similar to Sundown ranch where I met Sandile. I went with my album which had Sandiles' pictures, and the pictures with jimmy's lions, and the pictures of the cheetahs at the Mokolodi Game Reserve too.
The purpose was to introduce myself using these pictures and tried to get friendly with the game ranger of the place visited with the hope of winning their confidence so at later stages i might get my way in with the lions of their territory.
While at the office I was introduced to the game ranger Cronje and Robert. They browsed through the pages of the album and were impressed. While they were busy, I started looking at the portraits on the wall. While I was looking at one of the portraits I was told "this lion was hand raised and was one year and eight months old". I was told he has gone to the bush but shall be back by 4pm. He was named Leo.
He (Leo) accompanied by two other lions leave for the bush by 7am and return by 4pm.All these 12cubs with 3 lionswere freely moving. In the meantime we were taken around to see the breeding lions.They had almost 14 lion holding pans and in each pan there were three to five grown up lions.We were even told that by 4pm when leo and his mates were back, they all with the cubs walk to a back water collection and swim in there.We were all exited to hear and told ourselves that we shall wait for that moment before we return back home.
At around 3:30pm Leo and the team were back from the bush.As i was walking towards the office to meet Noelin, I saw Leo seating on the lawn. He looked big and beautiful.But noelin was not in the office instead she was on the other side of the loan were Leo was seated.I had my intentions of getting a picture with Leo. As I walked towards Noelin I forgot that I was walking past Leo.
While passing leo,he grabbed both of my feet with his front paws and I fell flat on my chest. He immideatly held my right knee with his mouth holding it with his cannines. I could feel the grip of his mouth and immideatly noelin came to my rescue.As i was freed, istarted petting him and grooming his mane with my fingers and he settled down to accept me.I took a couple of pictures with him.
By almost 4:15pm, Robert started calling the cubs, Leo and his mates since it was time for a swim.They all walked in rows of two behind each other till they were in the water.After a while as they were coming out of the water,my son Essa(4yr) was standing in their path.
The first two cubs passed by him, but the third one who looked almost 12 weeks old did not waste time as he just jumped on to him and was all over him. I had to rush to rescue him at that moment. He was in shock and his mother took him on to her arm and didn't want to get down. These cubs were going for a small meal after there demonstration. We all followed them to a place were the carcass of a buffalo was lying.
My family was standing at quite a distance but they could see all of them eating. The cub who had jumped on Essa was hidding in the tall grass behind his back. Essa got convinced that there was no danger for him and got down his mother arms. While i was watching the pride eating, I was also keeping an eye on my family to see that they were safe.
What I saw after a short while was the female cub who was hidden in the tall grass was stalking very quietly towards Essa. I immideatly ran towards the family and carried Essa with my hands under his arm pits above my head level and the cub just missed him by few inches. Now, both mother and son were panicked and insisted that we should leave while my daughter Maryam (8 years) was insisting we should still wait. I promised her that we shall be back after some weeks and shall spend a night there!
Lionesses not only assume the responsibility of hunting for the group but also care for the offspring. Lions are not particularly efficient hunters, successfully capturing prey consisting of medium sized ungulates including zebras, wildebeests and antelope in only 20-30 per cent of their attempts.
They are referred to as opportunistic, eating whatever they can catch for themselves or steal from other predators. They are not well adapted for leaping or reaching particularly high speeds, nor are they capable of running long distances.
In general, if lions are not successful within a few hundred metres, they give up the chase and the prey escapes. Lions do not hunt by scent, although their sense of smell is excellent, they often approach prey from an upwind location thereby alerting the prey and ending the hunt.
Secondly, the lion’s charge is generally launched directly at its quarry and it rarely alters the path of the attack, as do other felids. Generally speaking, if a lion misses its quarry on the initial charge, it does not give pursuit, but quits and looks for new quarry.
Scavenging is also an important source of food for lions, with food stolen from other predators often making up to 10-15 per cent of their total food intake. Lions spend a great deal of time looking for circling vultures and listening to the calls of hyenas, enabling them to locate downed prey.
When prey and other predators are plentiful, lions may get close to half of their food by scavenging.
Stalking by day, on the open plain, becomes extremely difficult because of the sharp sight of antelope, wildebeest and zebras. When several lions are taking part during early morning stalking, other animals of the grasslands including the intended victims know that the lions are hunting.
The prey will be glancing around nervously when a lion is in sight as all the eyes will be fixed on it. Since they do not know where all the lions are located nor do they know how or where they will strike the early flight would not always be the best method of escape for the quarry.
Lions hunt during all times of the day, nocturnal hunts are generally more successful. Lions in many areas of their range, prefer to hunt under the cover of darkness where the light gathering adaptations of the field eyes casts a distinct advantage to the predators.
As darkness approaches, the lionesses silently move out in lines to locate prey, circling around and behind a herd they pick out a startled victim and dispatch it with a bite to the neck or throat.
At a kill interactions and pecking order among pride members is highly developed and lions rarely eat in peace. Confrontation becomes a risky business because of the uncertainty temper and tremendous strength of the males feeding at kills.
Therefore, when the full pride is present the mature males eat first and rarely tolerate females in the initial feeding. They retire in the immediate vicinity to relax, when they have satisfied themselves, and the females with constant bickering come forward fighting among themselves.
Scars representing most of the facial wounds on the lion’s head, are received during squabbles at kills. Last to feed are the juveniles and cubs and are frequently left out altogether. That is the fact of lion life and is the leading cause of cub deaths due to starvation.
In the interest of the pride during periods of food shortage, cubs are apparently readily expendable, and are later easily replaced when food supply is increased.
Limiting serious injury during potentially violent confrontations, lions use instinctual and ingenious methods. Cubs being the weaker members of the pride, adopt fawning or cringing position and by crouching or lying submissively on their backs, deliberately exposing itself in such a fashion as to make killing as easy as possible for the superior lions.
Lions once having found the shadow of an acacia tree, they devote an inordinate amount of time sleeping especially at midday on the plains. Resting for the next 24 hours digesting their meal, after consuming a full meal, they lie about completely intertwined with heads and legs lying over and around adjacent individuals. When one shifts position, the chain reaction affects many of its resting partners.
When lions become man-eaters they are bolder and more aggressive in their pursuit of humans. A man-eating lion often hunts at night and prowls the perimeter of villages looking for victims.
While at Orion safari, the three lionesses were seating in a shade and an open plain. A heard of zebra appeared from a distance. They kept coming close till almost a kilometre away from these lionesses, when one of the lionesses started to stare at them.
Meanwhile, the zebras came closer, and walked right into the trap. With its terrifying power and determination, the lioness chased after her chosen victim, an adult male zebra. Catching up with him, she leaped on to his back but was kicked off for a moment.
She was suddenly there again, gaining on him as he ran and leaping once more onto his back with such a force that he stumbled, cart wheeling in a cloud of dust as she fastened her jaws on a death grip around his throat.
I took a chance by waiting at their table while they were having their meal.
LIONS are able to understand terms at high subtraction level, for example, numbers. It’s not sure how and when did lions get this fascinating skill. However, many fossils proved lions were able to count a long time before first humans developed brain bigger than an orange which is the lowest mass allowing abstract thinking. This means, humans are no longer the first intelligent species on earth.
Compared to the way humans count, The Lion Numeric System (LNS) is very sophisticated. The decimal numeric system human use is based on the number of fingers -10, which almost every human being possesses. Humans tend to use fingers to help them count.
On the other hand, a lion fore paw has five claws; back paws have four claws each. The problem lions are facing is, that one of their fore paw claws –a dew claw, is placed higher on the paw, which makes it rather hard to use. However, this fact didn’t force the lions to develop just octal numeric system (digits from 0-7), which will be less practical than decimal. This simple solution didn’t satisfy lions enough.
The LNS is much better than silly octal numbers and allows lions to count easily up to very big numbers. A lion can count up to incredible 65535 just on his four paws-that’s something humans can only dream about. The way they do it, is simple. Lions use all combinations of extended/retracted claws on each paw. With four claws, this makes 2×^4 combinations-which are equal from 0-15. Yes, for a lion number 10, 11,12,13,14, and 15 are each considered a single digit!
The conversation of LNS to human understandable format is easy. From the point of view of the counting lion, the claw on the right (LSC-Less significant Claw) has value of 2×^0=1, the second from the right has value of 2×^1 =2, the second from the left has value of 2×^2 =4 and the left claw (MSC-Most Significant Claw) has value of 2×^3 =8. This applies to right fore paw. The left fore paw is used the same way, just the numbers on this paw are four claws shifted to the left-that means, multiplied by 16.
Just on fore paw a lion can count up to 15*16+15=255. Rear paws are used the same way, also shifted. Two lions standing next to each other can count to much higher numbers; while pride can have maximal number higher than our computers can count with. A pride of lions can also use parallelisms to count faster.
Because of problems with extending just some claws, many lions use their whole fingers like humans do. The lions can also write digits by making paw prints in mud, which can keep the calculations for a long time after drying. After rains, lions can be seen walking slowly and thoughtfully back and forth in mud. This doesn’t help them get rid of parasites living on their paws; they are just doing complex calculations-usually estimating numbers of prey.
By now I’d been issued a permit from the Director of Wildlife and National Parks to rear two orphan cheetahs. The holding pan was already built and it was 25km from were I was staying. Another small pan was built were I was staying at home keeping in mind that once they are older than four months I would take them back to a bigger enclosure.
When the cub was brought to me (14days old), it was quite exited, nervous & uncertain of itself, subjected to fear & stress because they suddenly find themselves in a new and unfamiliar environment. In this situation, it wouldn’t eat immediately. It needed a period of adjustment that lasted for several days to enable it to calm down. This gave time to accept its captivity before it touched any food.
Caring for and keeping orphaned animals alive requires considerable attention and devotion, especially during the first few weeks. An animal that has never suckled and did not get any colostrums is handicapped from the start because it lacks essential ingredients e.g. antibodies against diseases and nutrients such as protein, carbohydrate, vitamins & minerals. Animals that grow up without having had it suffer from all kinds of problem and disorders, and never progress.
The natural behaviour, suckling habits and milk composition vary from one species of animal to the next. It is therefore impossible to raise all wild animals in the same way by using the same milk formula. When I was handed over the cheetah cub, I was instructed that “This animal should be cared for as nearly as its own mother would have done”.
Since I was undertaking care of the cub, in the beginning of its life, I would be accepted as its surrogate mother or feeding mother. The manner in which I hold the milk bottle, my clothing, my scent and voice, and the manner I express love and patience are imprinted at an early age on the cub. The milk fed was at body temperature of 38C. For the first few days, the cub was kept in a quiet, safe and warm place by covering the floor with a thick layer of straw. I kept wooden crate in a corner to provide a hiding place where the cub would feel safe and warm.
After a few days, the cub was taken out of its shelter and placed in a small pen during the day. Shady place was provided so that the cub could move out of the sun when it became too hot. In the late afternoon, I would take the cub to its warm shelter where it would stay for the night. Fresh, clean drinking water was available at all times. The bedding litter was changed regularly and replaced with dry, fresh litter. Saw and saw dust was used as litter. When diarrhea occurred, the litter was changed more often. Warm water, soap and mild disinfectant were used to wash the faeces off the tail and other soiled parts of the hind quarters.
Initially it was difficult to persuade or force a frightened, nervous young cub to drink milk from a bottle. I had to force feed else it would die of dehydration within two or three days. Force feeding was done by inserting a finger between its lips on one side of its mouth and pushed the teat in after it. I then massaged the gums lightly and carefully with the finger. The milk got squeezed drop by drop out of the bottle. When it was feeding, I would speak to the cub continuously and softly while I stroked its back and tail.
After 14 days, once the cub was used to drinking, I taught it to drink from a bucket. It drank equivalent to about 10-15% of its body weight per day. I had to devote considerable attention and time to help the cub to urinate and defecate by stimulating its anal and genital areas by using a warm, damp towel to massage the under its tail to stimulate the licking of its mother. This stimulation was being done during or just after feeding.
Once it had attained three months it was weaned. It was relatively traumatic and heart rending experience. To facilitate weaning, I left few meat pieces in the holding pen so that the cub would learn to eat solid foods. As the cub was close to being weaned and also was eating solid food, the milk quantity was decreased gradually over a period of 2-3 weeks. As he was totally on solid food, I had to take him to its den!
MERELY following their mothers from a distance at four months of age around everywhere, but will not take directly part in hunting. They learn the tricks and techniques of hunting, as they observe their mothers at work.
Females will sometimes beat prey to the ground without killing it, allowing the adolescents to complete the kill, for the sake of teaching them. The herbivore, that is generally immobilized as though paralyzed, shall be suffocated at first, clumsily. Allowing the herbivore to get away off their grip, because of their lack of experience. This learning requires several trials. Cubs are generally capable of killing prey, by the age of one year. At two years of age, they could hunt on their own. Having detected the presence of zebra or gnu, only the adolescents or very large cubs can attempt to bring them down. Cubs will not be able to experiment with all types of game, during their training.
Differences between females and sub-adult males are already quite marked, by the age of two years reflecting the signs of role sharing between males and females. Exuding a liveliness and self-assurance that is lacking in their brothers and cousins who are larger but more apathetic, young lionesses are much more vigilant. It is often the young females that set the pace, when the pride is on the move, especially when adults seem to lose, all eagerness to get ahead.
Young males indulge in more aggressive games and assert their physical superiority around carcasses, on the other hand. Adolescents remain on the pride's territory even though they move around independently of other pride members with increasing frequency, during the period in which they are trained to hunt. But not for long, meetings with resident males are still friendly.
At last the time comes for males to leave the territory of their native pride. The resident males will have become very aggressive and even some of the females may encourage the hesitant young adult to leave the pride, when at last the time comes for males to leave the territory.
When they are young, the cubs manage to climb vertical tree trunks with their sharp little claws. A cub very much appreciates his mother's grooming. Lioness is welcomed warmly by her young upon returning from the hunt.
In the midst of the pride, cubs feel safe enough to play. They try their courage against each other and prepare for hunting through harmless games. To involve the adults in their games, they climb on the bodies of resting adults. When they are not in the best of health during the rare lean periods, they totally stop all games. Playing is part and parcel of their lives, otherwise.
Lions are particularly playful, like an elephant, monkeys, although their games are quite different from those of young baboons whose idea of fun includes hanging from another's tail while playing among the branches. Lion cubs love playing with the tail of a brother or an adult and rolling in elephant dung. Tortoise is also a great toy. They approach it fearlessly and beat on it a few times with their paws, naturally causing the tortoise to withdraw completely into its shell. They stand back and wait for further reactions. They try to pick it up in their mouths when nothing happens and this is no easy task. Races between cubs are fun to watch. It is not always a good idea, when they decide to play with a porcupine.
When lions, cheetahs, elephants, baboons, and other animal cubs play, take great risks, since they can sometimes stray away from their mothers without realizing it and predators are never too far away waiting for such an occasion. The benefits and advantages of playing are obvious, despite the risks.
A cub develops strength, by developing the body. Therefore, playing prepares cubs for what they will have to face throughout their lives. The young cubs learn cunningness and improve their skill and creativity on the playfield that is a schoolroom. When they will have to conquer a pride or hunt all these qualities will be of great help to them in their adult lives. Discoveries such as piece of wood or bone are generally shared by the young lions and if there are any quarrels they also learn to pit their strength against a companion.
Smaller cubs are not normally hurt by older cubs. Fights between young male cubs are generally more serious, as the sex of the cubs also influences play.
Play allows for violent instincts to be channelled. The stronger animals are placed at the same level of the weaker. Young elephants will be allowed to climb over adolescent elephants by the latter one kneeling. Likewise the older cubs within a pride will never use all their strength against a weaker companion and that is how they learn to play together. The individual with the upper hand also prolongs the pleasure of the play, by reducing his own chances of winning.
After an interval of almost three months I once more decided to visit Inkaya Nkalamo (Otospot). Upon my arrival, I saw Leo was seated in sphinx position on the lawn and many other cubs were playing with each other. Some of them racing with each other, some playing with each other's tail, while some were tumbling over each other.
I decided to go and seat next to Leo. Three other cubs were seated next to him. As I bent over Leo to kiss him, one of the cubs jumped onto my back, while the other cub from a different direction was holding to my sleeve. After a moment, the cub that was on my back, decided to reach for my head gripping himself with its claws, which were already sunk into my skin. The cub that was holding onto my sleeve managed to get a good grip and jumped onto my back. I did not want to disturb their play and let them win me.
All of a sudden, Leo decided to stand, and I was forced to tilt myself as to give him room to walk away. With this tilting myself, the cub who had reached for my head gripping himself with his claws to my forehead lost balance and scratched me deeply onto my head, and the other cub tumbled onto its back. I realized with this play how they train themselves for the later days to come.
It was really fun!
IT should surprise no one to learn that sleep is somewhat different in different animals as sleep varies phylogenetically. Indeed it would be truly amazing if all animals slept the same because animals differ so drastically in their anatomy, physiology, environment, and modes of adaptation to their environment.
Variations in the ways that animals sleep are intrinsically interesting from a naturalistic point of view. Giraffes' total daily sleep time in hours is 1.9, roe deer 3.09, pilot whale 5.3, man 8.0, Baboon 9.4, domestic cat 12.5, laboratory rat raff 13.0, Lion 13.5, Eastern chipmunk 15.8, Little brown bat 19.9.
Sleep habit, sleep places, and sleep postures vary greatly. Some mammals (moles and rabbits) sleep in burrows whereas others (zebra) sleep in the open. Some mammals (cattle) can sleep with their eyes open. Others (seals and hippopotami) spend part of their sleep under water. Some mammals (gorillas) settle into nests to sleep, whereas others (dolphins and porpoises) sleep while swimming. Furthermore, dolphins and porpoises can sleep with one half of their brain at a time while the other half is awake so as to permit these air breathing mammals to come to the surface to breathe periodically.
The fox sleeps curled up; the leopard straddles a tree limb; the bat sleeps hanging upside down. Some mammals sleep primarily at night (humans), while others sleep mostly during the day(rat).Horses spend the major portion of every 24-hours period standing, part of the time in NREM, by utilising passive locking mechanisms in their limbs. In spite of all these variations, is evidence that sleep is indispensable?
How much an animal's sleep is largely determined by its status as prey or predator-that prey animals sleep less because sleep makes them vulnerable? This theory is difficult to evaluate because predator-prey status is not generally as obvious as in the case of the lion and zebra, or the wolf and caribou. Some species are both predator and prey, and judgments of their vulnerability are often subjective. Also, it is far from clear that sleep significantly increases vulnerability to predation.
A major function of sleep is to protect animals from predation to keep them out of harmís way when they have satisfied their need for food, procreation. The reasons for the relationship between sleep and size are not entirely clear, but it is thought to have something to do with energy conservation, which is a much greater problem for smaller mammals then for larger mammals.
A lion's life is filled with sleeping, napping and resting. Over the course of 24 hours, lions have short bursts of intense activity, followed by long bouts of lying around that total up to 21 hours! Lions are good climbers and often rest in trees, perhaps to catch a cool breeze or to get away from flies. Lions lying around in crazy poses, on their backs with their feet in the air or legs spread wide open!
Lions and all cats, actually spend very much time at sleeping, simply because they can. Their special anatomy and physiology shows their organism is used to acting in abrupt impulses. A hunter doesnít need endurance and self-control, but intensive work in short period of time and distance. According to this, cats get great satisfaction during rest and respites.
Generosity among female lions is largely a matter of indifference. Females that have the least to lose, sleep best, owing either to the small size of their own litter or to the company of close relatives. Females spotted Hyenas have resolved the conflict by keeping their cubs in a well protected den. Mothers return to their cubs for short periods, feed their brood and then sleep somewhere else in peace.
Lions are known for their ability to sleep the day away. As the largest predator in their habitat, lions can afford to snooze for long periods of time without risking their lives. Sleeping may also make their meals last longer, a real benefit when you only eat an average of every other day. Lions also tend to be more alert at night, so catching them awake during the day is more of a challenge. Even with night time activity, they may still sleep up to 20 hours a day.
My visits to Sandile by now were more frequent and from the photographs it showed that we both were relaxed while being with each other. When I would enter his territory he would come to me greeting with his head pushing into me towards my abdomen and after grabbing his head and kissing him, he would just try to snooze on my arm and I would be patting him.
Yawning is an act of deep inspiration, followed by a lengthy, forceful expiration with simultaneous strong contraction of many skeletal muscle groups, and occasionally accompanied by lacrimation.
Fatigue, hunger and satiety have all been suggested as stimuli for yawning. Oxygen insufficiency causes yawning. Frequent or excessive yawning may accompany certain diseases of the central nervous system. A seriously sick mammal does not yawn, and when it does yawn again the danger is past.
They lower the head while opening the mouth to fullest extent, then raised the head again in normal horizontal position. The reaction occurs with the animal in the sitting, normal standing or low crouched postures.
Herbivores have seldom been observed yawning, but warm, well-fed, drowsy members of the Felidae often yawn, and domestic candies may yawn in certain social play situations.
Yawning is universal in mammals and birds, amphibians and certain reptiles also yawn. Although it is clear that members of these classes may open their mouth widely on occasion, it is not at all clear that they are yawning when they do so.
Yawning defined as a slow opening of the mouth, maintenance of the open position for more than 3s, followed by a more rapid closure of the mouth.
Lions yawn most often when they are lying down. Yawning is more frequent when the temperature is between 70 and 74 degrees F and decline when the temperature fell below or rose above this range. Yawning by lions occur most often just before feeding, when they presumably are hungry, and when the temperature is warm, but not hot.
Lions almost yawn at a rate of 1.2 yawns/hr. During morning hours there were relatively few yawns (0.8/hr) but there was a progressive increase before feeding time to 1.8 yawn/hr.
During and after feeding there was a sharp decline in the frequency of yawns (0.35 yawns/hr). Yawning, it stands to reason that sleepy lions would yawn a lot, but lions are most likely to yawn in situations where they are nervous and uncomfortable and often yawn just as they are about to get up rather than the opposite. They have a huge, pink tongue.
It is covered with hard, sharp papillae, rough enough to scrap meat from bones or make your skin bleed.
Lions are known to sit still for hours waiting and stalking prey. As these lions wait patiently and quietly for their next meal they constantly yawn. It is believed that this act is meant to increase the oxygen in their body and in turn increase their attentiveness and reflexes.
Two different type of yawns occurred in males. In one type the animal raised its head and opened its mouth so widely that its teeth was exposed, particularly the large canines that are characteristic of males. This response last 4-5s and is never seen in females.
In the second type of yawn, the head was raised only slightly, and the mouth did not open widely enough to expose the teeth, which remained covered by the lips. This response lasted only 1-2s and was shown by both sexes.
Only these shorter duration responses were scored as yawns. It appears likely that these were true yawns, whereas the larger duration response was really a 'bared-teeth display' shown exclusively by males.
Yawning is never observed just before sleep episodes. 8% of the yawns occur while the animal is lying down. The remaining 92% occur while animals were in sitting posture, but yawning is never observed while an animal is standing. As with the fish, the anticipation of major stimulus events may be associated with an increase in yawning by lions. Lions yawn in anticipation of metabolically expenses events such as feeding or fighting. Increased oxygen consumption and metabolic rate characterize such behaviours, but increasing respiration rate might accomplish the same adaptive outcome.
Some primates yawn in order to intimidate rivals by revealing their large teeth, but this doesn't appear to be the case with lions. Given how much time lions spend asleep, we might ask if they yawn just as a result of fatigue.
Another visit to Sandile, already 4yr 1mth by then. It was quite a sunny day, and was introduced to a new game ranger Harry. Gerald requested Harry to come along as you could not predict any thing with these feline members. As usual upon entering his territory was greeted by his head rubbing manner which I acknowledged by kissing him. He sat in his usual sphinx posture and had a series of photographs.
It was a sheer luck to get this picture with Sandile yawning, as the yawns lasts 1-2s. Whenever I look at this picture I thank the creator.