Animals that exist together in groups are called different names. For example in big cats, a group of leopards is a “leap”, tigers are a “streak”, and jaguars are a “prowl, leap, or shadow”.
Lions also have a unique name for their group.
A group of lions is called a “pride”. While this is the most common term, “sault”, “sowse” or “troop” also refer to a group of lions. A pride consists of up to 40 members with a dominant male, a majority of females and cubs, and a few if any, non-dominant males. Males that group together within a pride or nomadically are called a “coalition”.
This article will explain in further detail the logistics of a pride and how the members of the group contribute to its function.
Table of Contents
What A Group Of Lions Is Called
Lions belong to the cat family of Felidae, classified as big cats of the Panthera genus. They are the only big cats that live in groups, while other big cats live solitary lives.
Most often, a group of lions is referred to as a “pride”. The number of lions in a pride (or family) can be as high as 40 members.
The pride consists of mostly related females, cubs, and a few transitory non-dominant males. One male lion is dominant over the entire pride.
Etymology Of Pride
Lions have been viewed as the “king of the jungle” as apex predators. The term “pride” refers to their dignified social and high standing.
This word also has a connection to the Latin words “praeda” and “parata”, meaning “prey” and “prepare” respectively.
This terminology supports pride within the social structure as a dominant male prepares himself to lead a group of hunters.
Alternative Names For A Group Of Lions
A group of lions may also be referred to with a variety of words such as a “sault”, “sowse” or “troop”.
These words have the following meanings:
- Sault: related to “salient”, meaning to leap
- Sowse: browsing; coexisting
- Troop: refers to a group
Group Of Male Lions: Coalition
A male-only group is called a “coalition”. This can exist within a pride or as a separate group.
An in-pride group of about 1 to 4 non-dominant males is temporarily a part of the group. They are typically cubs that stay until they are 2 or 3 years old.
These male cubs become nomadic, leaving the pride, once they are mature. They seek to find unrelated females for breeding. They will also attempt to overtake a dominant male from another pride.
A group of nomadic male lions will roam together outside of a pride either searching for females or as an ousted group. They can be siblings or cousins, or they can be unrelated.
Members Of A Pride And Their Roles
Each pride has members that fulfill certain roles within the group.
“Lion” refers to the males in a pride. The leader of the pride is the strongest, dominant one that mates with the females. He protects the territory and pride.
There may be a few young males that are transitory within the pride. Eventually, they will leave the pride and challenge a male from another pride, seeking out unrelated females to mate with.
The dominant lion of the pride protects the territory with urine markings and roaring. He also chases off or fights encroaching animals.
The females not only raise their cubs but are the primary hunters. They are slimmer than males, and up to 30% faster, reaching speeds up to 50 miles per hour (mph) in short bursts.
Lionesses tend to hunt collaboratively. When hunting, a lioness will hide in vegetation or the surrounding habitat waiting for prey, such as zebras or wildebeests, to come close.
Other lionesses will hide in other spots, surrounding the prey. Then, once it is close enough, they leap out, surprising the prey.
Lionesses use powerful claws and teeth to injure and crush a prey’s neck and then bring it back to the pride for all to eat.
A male lion may also join in, helping the lioness to corner prey, using its weight and brute strength to overcome it.
Baby: Cub, Whelp, Lionet
Offspring in a pride is called lionet, whelp, or cub. A lioness will have a litter of 1 to 6 cubs, but typically 2 to 4. The lionesses raise each other’s subs communally.
As previously mentioned, mature male offspring are ousted from the group, joining a coalition of other nomadic males as they search for a pride of their own.
Female cubs may stay with the pride once mature, but typically do not mate with their father.
Studies show that while incest can happen, typically a dominant male is not in control long enough to mate with mature daughters. Conversely, female offspring will mate outside of the pride with a different male.
Young cubs help in hunting at about 1 year old.
Why Lions Live In Groups
Lions live in groups to meet their basic needs involving survival and protection. By living together, they represent strength in numbers.
This provides groups of lions with benefits such as the following:
- Increased protection of cubs
- Hunting with others allows for surprise and sneak attacks
- Claiming of more territory for access to ample
food, water, and shelter
A “pride” is a group of lions, which may also be called a “sault”, “sowse” or “troop”.
A smaller group of ousted males roaming for a new pride is called a coalition. A coalition may also exist within a pride as a small group of non-dominant males before they are ousted.
Females (lionesses) make up the majority of the pride. They take care of the cubs and work collaboratively to hunt prey.
Males protect the pride’s territory from encroaching animals and mark it with urine. They will defend and fight to maintain dominance over a territory and the pride.