The King of the beast
Is the king of the jungle
The charismatic king’s face
Is well known in emblems and coat of arms worldwide
Recognisable by the distinctive and imposing mane
That is awesome and majestic
Lioness, the queen has no mane

The King’s power
The almighty’s roar out-distances and out-last all
And defines and protects the realm.
In the contested open country and grassland habitat
In terms of reputation, the largest cat the tiger
Is outclassed and well beaten by the lion.
Unlike other cats the lion’s tail has a tuft of hair
Seemingly a fly whisk befitting royalty.

The belly rules
The lion is more tolerant of grass land than the tiger or jaguar.
The optimum habitat is grassland interspersed with wooded areas
That supports a host of medium to large ungulates
Wildebeest, zebra, antelope and buffalo all favourite prey
Bulky enough to provide a decent meal for the pride
Unlike the leopard, the lion’s adaptation
To dense forest and desert environment is poor
Because bulky prey are few and scavenging is unyielding
The lion “roars” on it belly
Just like Napoleonic soldiers who matched
With might and splendour on their bellies

The social life
The tiger and leopard are solitary by nature
The cheetah enjoys living in small social groups
While the lion is highly social and family orientated
Of all the cats the lion’s social organisation is largest and matriarchal
Numbers confer benefit in territory and prey therein
Besides, it provides better defence and greater insurance against injury
The hunting mantra “out manoeuvre one but not a pride”
Settles the solo verses group hunt debate or contest

The family is the pride
The primary matriarchal society is called the pride
Comprising about six related females – sisters, aunts and cousins
Including their cubs; and for company one or two males called a coalition
Who mate and service the adult females
Female membership is stable save for birth or death
But hunting sub-groups may scatter and re-join the pride
Creating a fission-fusion social unit within the pride
Male membership of the pride is less stable
Through spontaneous withdrawal or forceful ejection

The nomadic world
The second behavioural society is called the nomads
Members are either related or un-related male groups
And move widely within the territorial range
Some members switch lifestyle
In a pride-nomad behavioural and societal interchange
The stable nomad groups are similarly called a coalition

The cubs
Are regarded as the pride of the lionesses
Their start is however traumatic for all concerned
As new incoming male chase and kill cubs “inherited”
To cause the females to mate soon thereafter
To bear in synchrony communal litters jointly reared
Males guard and protect the cubs while lionesses go out to hunt
Cubs are weaned at 6 months and mature at 3 years
At every stage of their life, lions do best of all in groups

The idleness
Of all the cats lions are remarkably least active
Resting and perhaps sleeping for approximately 20 hours a day
Lions socialise by head rubbing and licking
By nature lions are primarily nocturnal and crepuscular
In the short and cramped 4 hours of the day when they are active

The female hunters
Hunting is the female domain
Being faster and more agile
Hunting is visual in the main
The base technique is stalk and pounce
Co-ordinated group hunting outwits prey better
To double the kill rate to about 30%
Night and twilight hunting minimises
The opportunity for competition from other predators
The hunt short-fall is not insuperable
For scavenged meat is as right as rain

Territory as means and ends
Abundance of prey determines the quality of territory
Courtship needs equally impacts territorial behaviour
Females do not go unescorted for long
As male coalitions defend territory and fight for conjugal rights
Ousting weaker males or smaller coalitions
The bigger the mane the more threatening the pose
The greater the mating and culinary benefits

Territorial integrity
Both male and female scent-mark territory
Spraying urine and physically marking to define territory
Beside roaring and patrolling to maintain territory
Individual and collective responsibility secures territory
For the benefit of the individual and pride in the territory
Icon of humanity
For centuries the lion has been depicted positively
As the symbol of power and nobility worldwide
Egyptians built temples of lioness goddesses
Roman gladiatorial arena symbolised bravery
The lion represented loyalty and stateliness in ancient India
Biblically Daniel escaped from the lion’s den
But notwithstanding the iconic adoration
Nature’s centre of gravity in ancient times was man
Not the lion or other animals

The animal ambassador
In modern times all living things
Collectively occupy the centre of the circle of life
The zoo lion is respected and regarded as an ambassador
Housed in a well-designed and near-jungle environment
Coat of arms and emblems worldwide adorn lions
The lions represent nationhood and stateliness
Singapore derives its name from- singa (lion) and pora (fortress)

Born Free
Elsa the famous lioness in the film “Born Free”
Together with Joy and George Adam form a “pride”
That depicts nature’s greatest endowment
Man and the lion in a free association
In which there is no fear of nature
And there is no dominance of humanity over nature
The lion can sleep undisturbed in the jungle every night
Roar freely across and over the rolling savannah
To rule the jungle kingdom for ever
As the Lion King