By Mike E.

Lions live in Africa south of the Sahara and in Northwest India. Lions don't actually live in the jungle. Their real habitat is the open savanna where they hunt mammals such as gazelles, antelope, and zebra. They may also cooperate to catch larger mammals such as buffalo, giraffes and even crocodiles. Lionesses, or female lions, usually do most of the hunting. Sometimes they work together to flush out prey. One lion will scare out prey towards the others making it difficult to escape.

Lions live in groups called prides. These prides usually consist of as many as 15 lionesses and their young, and 3 adult males. An average lion's body is 4 1/2 to 6 1/2 feet long, and their tails are 26 1/4 inches long to 3 1/4 feet. They can also grow up to 3 1/2 feet high and can weigh up to 500 pounds.

So why are lions the kings of the jungle? Lions are the kings of the jungle because of their raw power and strength. Lions fear no other animals, however, like a king lions do have enemies. The lion's worst enemy is the hyena.

Hyenas eat the same food as lions, so the lions and the hyenas often come into conflict over food. The only other enemy the lions have is people. Unfortunately the beautiful fur of a lion is very valuable on black markets. Because of this the lion is in danger of poachers, and because of poachers, the lion is an endangered species. In fact humans are the only thing that lions have to fear. Unfortunately these poachers don't care if these lions become extinct, and extinct is forever. This means once lions are gone, they will never come back.

Like a king, lions also maintain order. A king maintains order by making laws and punishing those that don't abide. A lion maintains a balance by killing some animals. If there no lions, herds of antelope would overcrowd the savannas and destroy all the grass resources. Everything impacts something.

Kings are the most powerful people or rulers of a land. Perhaps this is why the lion is considered king, because it is control of the land it lives on and all the other animals that live on it.

Hyenas, however, are not really controlled by or fear the lions, but are a common enemy. It is sometimes said that if it wasn't for the ugly looks and walk of the hyena, they would be considered the kings of the jungle. On the other hand, the beauty and grace of a lion makes it the perfect king.

Lions also rest about 20 hours a day. In a sense, they have the life of kings. They eat, drink and sleep and do away with pests. This is why lions are considered the kings of the jungle.

I once saw a documentary on lions. At the end of this documentary a pride of lions was being attacked by a pack of hyenas. The hyenas were attacking the cubs; the lionesses were doing their best to keep the hyenas away, but the hyenas kept coming back. Unfortunately there were no male lions in sight and there hadn't been in weeks. In the last slip of the documentary, there is a lioness chasing a hyena but can't catch up, when from out of nowhere there appears a huge male lion, it's muscles bulging with strength from anger. With each step it gracefully charges past the lioness and with one strike to the right hind leg of the hyena, the hyena crashes to the ground tumbling and rolling from the sudden loss of footing. This is the act of a king, a king that was crossed the wrong way--a creature in command.

Dickey, Norma H. (ed.). Funk and Wagnals Encyclopedia, New York. p. 148.

Whitefield, Phillip (ed.) Macmillan Illustrated Animal Encyclopedia, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York: 1984. p. 104