A lion’s game of hide and seek is on as the species hunts and kills its prey in its habitat, says a new study from University of Calgary researchers.
“It’s very interesting to know how lions play, what they’re looking for, how they hunt and how they interact with each other,” said Dr. Daniel Cuthbertson, an assistant professor in the university’s department of zoology.
“This is something that is not yet understood in terms of human behavior.”
Cuthbertons team conducted a study on the behaviour of wild lions in the Canadian wilderness known as the Rocky Mountains.
It found that lionesses, which are the largest of all lion species, were more territorial than other wild lions, and that lions and other domestic animals were often hunting one another for food.
Cumulative kills from hunting were highest for lions in a group, as the researchers estimated, and the researchers observed that females, which typically hunt in packs, were the primary predators in large groups.
The group dynamics of the lionesses were more similar to those of other large carnivores such as bears, which also hunt for food in packs.
“We have seen lions hunt other carnivores in the wild and in the lab, but there’s no reason why they couldn’t be doing it in a natural environment,” said Cuthberttson.
“There are a lot of interesting things that can be learned about the biology of lions from studying this kind of behavior.”
Cuthberttons findings suggest that lion numbers are declining across Canada, as well as the world.
The population of lionesses in the U.S. has fallen to a record low of 1,100 in 2017, and they’re now on the verge of being wiped out.
“I think that’s a really good sign,” said R.J. Haldeman, an ecologist at the University of Toronto and co-author of a new paper that analyzed lions in Canada.
“Lions are in decline across the world.”
Cuts in lion populations are also increasing in the United States.
In 2017, a record 1,096 lions were listed as threatened in the federal listing of endangered species, down from 1,300 in 2016, according to the U,S.
Fish and Wildlife Service.
But the number of lion numbers is increasing in Canada as well, and it appears to be increasing in response to poaching.
Last year, the number killed in Canada for the first time was 1,937, up from 1-1,500 in 2016.
In the U., the lion population declined from 1.6 million to 1.3 million animals in the same time frame.