Spotting lions while on a safari is sure to be a highlight of any traveler’s trip to East Africa. Known as “the king of the jungle,” these majestic animals have forever been symbols of strength, courage, and power. Below we outline some interesting facts about lions and bust some popular myths so that you are equipped with lion knowledge before your next safari adventure!

1. Lions are the only social big cats and live in groups called prides. These family units can have between two to 40 lions and consist of up to four males, a dozen females, and cubs. While many of the lionesses – or females – usually stay with the pride as they age, young males will leave the pride to establish themselves in another pride. The pride structure is dominated by lionesses who lead the hunt for the prey. Although males do hunt, most of their responsibilities entail defending the pride’s territory. Even though the lionesses do the majority of the hunting, the adult males will eat first!

2. Despite being known as “the king of the jungle,” lions do not actually live in the jungle! Rather, they spend their lives in the grasslands and plains of Africa. The nickname ultimately comes from the majestic and powerful nature of lions. 

3. Serengeti National Park is thought to be the home of the largest lion population. More than 3,000 lions live within the park’s borders. In East Africa, Tanzania and Kenya are the best places to see wild lions, and sizable populations can be found in Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe as well.

4. The strength and power of a lion are incredible; they can run up to 50 miles per hour for short distances and can leap as far as 36 feet. This power is also evident in their roars, which are used to alert the pride of danger and can be heard from five miles away! 

5. Lions spend between 16 to 20 hours per day relaxing in the shade and conserving energy. Most of the hunting takes place at night, giving them the element of surprise when attacking their prey. Their impressive night vision helps them navigate at night, as they are nearly six times more sensitive to light than humans!