are not fast runners and only have a maximum speed of ~ 48kph, nor do they have the stamina to keep up this pace for more than ~ 100-200m. As such, lions rely on
harge until they are within 30m, unless their prey is facing away and cannot see the lion’s approach.Lions stalk their prey, although ambush behaviour has been observed. This happens mainly during daylight when stalking prey is more difficult. Of 1,300 hunts observed in the Serengeti
, 48% involved only one lion, 20% involved two and the remainder involved a group of three, up to fourteen lions.
Females do the majority of the hunting. Males who tag along with the hunt usually stay back until a kill has been made.
Lions hunting in twos and groups have a success rate of c. 30%. Those hunting singly by daylight have a success rate of 17-19%, but are the equal to groups at night. This reinforces the idea of why lions became the only sociable cat; to control exclusive hunting grounds rather than for greater success by cooperative hunting.
Most successful hunts are on dark nights in dense cover against
a single prey animal. One reason for lions’ relative low hunting success rate is that lions do not take into account wind direction when hunting; they often approach prey from an upwind direction thereby alerting their prey and ending the hunt. Additionally, the lion’s charge is generally launched directly at its quarry and it rarely alters the path of attack, as do other cats. Generally speaking, if a lion misses its target on the first run it usually abandons the chase.
Hunts of impala and medium-sized prey are significantly more likely to be successful when the lions do not stalk their prey but rather chase them immediately upon detection. The opposite is true for small-sized prey species. However, lions are more likely to stalk impala and medium-sized species, whereas they are less likely to stalk small-sized prey. Females are significantly more likely to stalk anything.
with cooperative hunting a question exists on whether pre-planned cooperation is taking place or whether lions make use of opportunities brought about by the presence of other lions.
Studies of the tactics of group hunting by lions give a similar basic plan of the hunting process. When the group spots the prey a hunt is often initiated by a single lion looking at it, to which the other lions respond by looking in the same direction – the only clear form of “communication” evidenced in the hunting process. The group fans out, with certain lions stalking at a greater distance to encircle the prey. The encircling lions launch the attack, seemingly to drive the prey towards the others who ambush from their cover position.
It is suggested that lions often, but not exclusively, followed the same hunting patterns and divided lions into stalking roles; left, centre and right wing positions. Lions hunting in their preferred roles increased the success of the group by nine per cent.