Lions use dense savanna vegetation to ambush their prey, making them as impressive killers as their female counterparts, according to a new study.
Female lions are considered as primary hunters of the pride and prey on antelopes, wildebeest, zebras and other animals in the open grasslands.
Previous researcher has shown that females are adept at killing animals, mostly because they tend to cooperate while hunting. However, male lions' pattern of hunting wasn't clear. Now, a study team comprising of researchers from the U.S. and South Africa has shown that male lions' killing prowess depends on their ability to ambush their prey.
There are obvious risks in observing male lions when they are planning to kill. So, researchers used technology to understand the lions' game plan.
First, researchers used a kind of scanner called Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) to create a 3-D map of the savanna vegetation.
They then combined these maps along with GPS data from predator-prey interactions from a pride of seven lions in South Africa's Kruger National Park. This combination of data enabled researchers to find the lines of sight, or "viewsheds", which gave them information about when and where the lions rested and hunted.
The data showed that both males and females tended to rest in shade during the day. However, at night, female lions hunted and rested in places with large viewsheds, while male lions tended to stick to places that had dense vegetation.
Researchers said that the study will help conservationists develop tactics to keep both prey and predator numbers in check.
"By strongly linking male lion hunting behavior to dense vegetation, this study suggests that changes to vegetation structure, such as through fire management, could greatly alter the balance of predators and prey," said Scott Loarie from Carnegie Institution for Science, according to a news release.
The study is published in the journal Animal Behavior.
A recent report from The Guardian had said that the population of African lions has fallen by 68 percent in the past half-a-century, from 100,000 to 35,000 today.
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