Anatomy of a Lion Kill

Lioness with prey
Picture Gallery

Kruger National Park Lion Kill - Lions hunt either alone or in prides. In collaborative hunts, it is usually the lioness who initiates the kill.


Lions stalk their prey and when close enough, attempt a short charge, either pouncing on their target or bowling it over.

Once the lion has its jaws clamped around its victim's throat death is swift, either by suffocation or a broken neck. The stomach is usually the easiest point of entry into the carcass, and this is the route most often taken by lions.

It also gives them direct access to some of the most nutritious parts of the body, such as the kidneys and liver of the prey. Lions usually rest after an initial feed, lying a short way away from the carcass so that they can still defend their kill against scavengers.

In a short time vultures begin to arrive. The first are usually the whitebacked vultures and then come the lappet-faced and others. Scavengers like hyaenas and jackals will be attracted by the vulture activity and will patiently wait at a safe distance until the lions have had their fill.

It can take over 24 hours before lions abandon their carcass and spectacular fights may occur among scavengers for the last scraps of food.

Read more facts about the African lion as well as an FAQ on lion behaviour.



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