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Why is the lion the king of the jungle?

 A lion in the Maasai Mara [Gardy Chacha, Standard]

Although a lion is referred to as the king of the jungle, interestingly he does not live in the jungle. They instead live in open grasslands – the savannas, rocky hills, and scrublands, but definitely not jungles.

So why is the lion called the king of the jungle, a title that has made it to global movie screens and a misleading one considering that the lion and his pride do not live in this natural habitat that is called a jungle?

Arguably, they too do not have kings in their midst but do have territorial pride boundaries. Here is the story. 

Lions are called the king of the jungle because the male lion exhibits a supreme attitude. His actions and behaviour are reflections of the way he thinks – a superior one.

The lion displays attributes of a powerful ruler, although they are only rulers of their territory. It is these actions through his behaviour. This makes the other wild animals in the animal kingdom respect the lion more than any other animal. 

The lion is said to be a powerful animal with intimidating survival instincts, like some of the rulers (kings) in history, which maybe is why the lion is referred to as the King.

Lions hunt all sizes of animals – small (warthogs) Medium (antelopes), and large (giraffes, buffalos, and elephants). 

In fact, the actual king of the jungle, if this were to be interpreted literally, would be the tiger, who lives in the jungle, and is the strongest and most enormous animal in the cat kingdom. While lions have natural predators, the tiger is said to have none. 

Five cats from the big cats' list (referred to as the genus Panthera) in the animal kingdom. Tigers are the largest cats, while lions come in second. The jaguar, the leopard, the snow leopard, and the cheetah follow in that order. 

Lions are big social cats that live in groups known as pride. They live in marked territories and each pride has to protect its territory.

A pride may consist of three to 21 females, up to six young male lions, and lion cubs of all ages. Each pride has a territory it governs, with the adult males protecting the pride against rival lions. 

Sometimes the fights are so aggressive and lead to death and severe injuries. Kenya’s famous Scarface and Loonkito had such lasting injuries. The two have since died.

It is common for pride to become independent, often with one lion going alone to join two other lions to form their own territory. Lionesses leave their pride community to give birth, only to return after four to eight weeks. 

Lionesses raise their cubs as a community and cubs can milk feed from any of the community lionesses, who depict minimal favouritism. 

A lion's mane starts growing on a young male at age one and by age three, the male cubs have already developed a sizeable mane, which gets them kicked out by other pride members.

A lion's mane is a status symbol for the male lion. It gives the lion a royal and majestic appearance symbolising raw power. As they grow older, the lion’s mane colour changes and gets darker with age giving it an imposing appearance. 


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