LionMrSimba

Lions in Selous: mane

23 posts in this topic

In August I visited Selous Game Reserve for a few days. I saw a good number of lions, males and females of different prides, in interesting situations (five lionesses eating a cape buffalo, two couples mating). All male lions have blonde and small mane.

Is this colour and the small size of the mane a characteristic of lions in this area of Tanzania? Or simply I saw sub adults...

In this documentary about Selous male lions have always small mane:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0fa6ar1Uq8

 

Thanks to all,

 

Angelo

 

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Do you have any pictures? With pictures we could probably tell if the males you saw were young. I've seen old males with small manes, but never old males with small blond manes.

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@@LionMrSimba. It isn't a characteristic of Tanzania, but rather a characteristic of some lions in the hot, dry eastern parks of East Africa (and probably elsewhere). It is an adaptation to the heat, but not all male lions in these areas will necessarily be short-maned.

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True @@pault you see small manes and shorter haired manes (that can be two different things, manes can extent to well over the shoulder, although it is rarely observed in the wild) more regularly in hotter areas and areas with denser bush. But the darkness of the mane seems more related to hormone levels, and I've never seen an old male lion which didn't have at least some dark hair in it's mane.

I hope @@LionMrSimba could post some pictures of the lions he has seen.

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Thanks a lot for informations. Here some pics: 8m2h.jpg

 

 

 

 

Other male of the same coalition (lake Manze): wveh.jpg

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Adult male lion seen not far from lake Tagalala: w4vd.jpg

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This is how I would look at it.

 

NR 1: Mane at cheeks and mohawk still pretty distinct and no mane at all yet between mohawk and ears and thus < 4 years.

His nose is quite pink, but a bit more difficult to assess, but from what I can see could be 3-5 years.

Teeth not visible.

Lower jaw not sagged so definitely not an old lion.

In general the fur looks quite glossy indicating a younger age, he has some scars but that could be from fighting over food.

The face looks quite small, definitely not a huge prime age male lion. I would say he's about 3 years old.

 

NR2: Mane in the neck is longer than on cheeks and mohawk (more difficult to tell on cheeks than top of head where the mohawk is), which indicates about 2-3 years old.

Difficult to asses his nose, but I see a good amount of pink, could be anything from 2-5 years old.

Fur looks nice and shiny, indicating a young age (the whiskerspots are still very clear). There are some scars on his face, but again, could be from fighting over food (versus territorial fights) and those scars look fresh, and the visible ear is intact.

Can't see the teeth.

Head doesn't look huge.

I would say this male is 2-3 years old, but younger than the first male, and most definitely not an old male.

 

NR3: Not much I can say about that from this picture. The mane hasn't filled in on his shoulder indicating he's younger than 5 years. It looks like there are dark marking at the back of his back legs which develop in males who frequently mark their territory so he's probably holding tenure over a pride. In general those markings are more conspicious early in the reproductive career, but it's hard to use it for age estimates, as it could be anything from 3-7 years.

His fur looks to be in good condition.

The general feel for me is is that this male is a bit older than the previous two, about 4-5 years old, but definitely not an old male.

 

So I would say they're all pretty young, none of them at prime age yet. But all of them would be physically capable of reproducing, and all of them would be strong enough to dominate a female to mate with her.

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Posted (edited)

Super interesting lesson in age identification, @@egilio. Could you do a few more for us to learn from if we posted some photos?

 

And are leopards and other cats much harder to age identify given their lack of manes?

Edited by Sangeeta

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Thanks egilio. Your answer is so rich...wow!

I've a close-up pic of lions n. 3:faf1.jpg

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Other male lion in poor condition (Selous, pic taken in the same area of the lion n. 3):1fmg.jpg

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Posted (edited)

Interesting lion NR 3.

On the new picture you can see that he still has a distinct mohawk, BUT he does have quite a bit of black in his mane. Mane-wise I would say 5+

His nose is visible now and quite black (if you look good you see more pink than you would expect to see after a first glance). From his nose he's 5-6

His fur has lost some of it's condition, best noticed by the fact that his whiskerspots have faded a bit as the contrast between fur and whiskerspot has become less (compare with NR 1 and 2!), but not very much. He's older than the other two.

He has a few scars, a few older and bigger ones (his nose), but ears are still intact, and in general it looks like he hasn't been in a lot of fights.

Teeth...They stay sharp and white up to about 2 years old, after that they start turning yellow, and an animal of 5-6 years old usually misses a few tips, when a lion is 8+ years old there is a good chance he has lost a significant part or whole tooth. It is clear he has lost a good bit of his lower left canine, but his lower right canine is actually still pretty sharp and white. From the teeth I would say 6, and he was unlucky with his lower left canine. A pity that the incisor were over-exposed. If he's old, and there's a good chance that some of those teeth are missing.

Lower jaw: In older lions the side lips of the lower jaws start sagging, even with the mouth closed. Here his mouth is open so I wouldn't assess this characteristic here.

 

Overall: The first impression was; Old lion. However, taking a closer look (mohawk, fur in good condition, ears complete, nose actually quite a bit of pink, lower RIGHT canine quite white) I would put him at about 6, but wouldn't be surprised if it's a known age male of 5 or 7.

 

Your lost one is the most difficult one. It could be a pretty young lion who is sick, giving him a black nose. Or an older lion who got sick and as a consequence lost his mane. You can still see some black mane hair on the top of his head and back of his neck even though those hairs are short. And compairing the those maine hairs to the ones of male 1 and 2 they don't look nice shining and fresh, but old and frazzled, giving even those short hairs a fuzzy look (especially at the back of his neck). Based on that I would say he's an old lion, but his characteristics have been altered because of his poor condition,possibly making him look older than he actually is.

Edited by egilio
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@@egilio. Love the age analysis. Very enriching. Am off to look at some old pictures if I can find them.

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@@egilio Thank you very much for the analysis about age of lions. A pic of the 1st pride with lions nr. 1 and 2:parh.jpg

The 5th male was in love with girlfriend:jq3t.jpg

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Aha, that first 'pride' of lions doesn't look like a pride. It looks like a coalition of young males! If left alone they could hold tenure over an area for quite a few years.

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@@egilio Can you check if i am a good or a bad student. I have pics of this beautiful lion of Ruaha N.P.:

aqpz.jpg

 

Flehmen position:

g29p.jpg

 

close-up pic:

925h.jpg

 

Black nose; thick mane quite dark on shoulder; teeth yellow, but canines in good condition; he has a few scars, not very big; I don't see ears, but probably they're not intact; lower jaw is not sagging. I think (I guess) he's 7 years old. Do you agree?

 

Angelo

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@@egilio Can you check if i am a good or a bad student. I have pics of this beautiful lion of Ruaha N.P.:

aqpz.jpg

 

Flehmen position:

g29p.jpg

 

close-up pic:

925h.jpg

 

Black nose; thick mane quite dark on shoulder; teeth yellow, but canines in good condition; he has a few scars, not very big; I don't see ears, but probably they're not intact; lower jaw is not sagging. I think (I guess) he's 7 years old. Do you agree?

 

Angelo

Sorry, @LionMrSima I'm only seeing this now.

 

Nose: Black, very black actually, so you're right. 6+

Mane: The thickness is mainly caused by the split hairs, indicating an older mane. Also some nice darkness in there indeed. 6+

Teeth: Yellow, canines in good condition but he's missing some incisors in his lower jaw. 6+ (canines 4+, incisors 8+)

Scars: The fur on his face has lost most of it's shine and has quite a few scars actually. 6+

Ears: Not very visible because the hair between ear and top of the head has filled in (no mohawk visible), but the right ear has quite a few notches. 6+

Lower jaw: Can't see any obvious sagging. --

 

I think about 7 would be a good estimate. Almost everything (mane, nose, ears) actually point to a lion a bit older than that, but his canines are in a very good condition for a 7 year old male lion (I would have expected a bit more wear on them, only the top right one seems to have been chipped a tiny bit), but his incisors are actually in a bad shape for a 7 year old male lion.

 

Good looking male!

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While in the Selous in November 2012, we also saw what we assumed to be coalition of lions, all with thin/ small manes. @@LionMrSimba, i wonder if the picture of your 4 do not look rather similar to these attached here, albeit a year older.....

 

post-47646-0-49295600-1390567857_thumb.jpg
post-47646-0-88171100-1390567958_thumb.jpg

 

The group. There were 4 of them (i think) although i could not ever get them all at once. The 4th is in the pic after this one.

 

post-47646-0-12034000-1390568087_thumb.jpg

 

post-47646-0-97217200-1390568200_thumb.jpg

 

And one of them who came and sat right by the vehicle.

 

post-47646-0-51890800-1390568271_thumb.jpg

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@@chrisf Thank you Chris. Do you remember the area in Selous you took pics? Lake Manze? I don't think they're the same coalition.

 

Angelo

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Most interesting. Now we must figure out the age of the avatar.

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@@LionMrSimba they were indeed around the Lake Manze or at least between Lake Manze and Lake Nzerakera (i think that is how to spell it) . We saw the same coalition twice in two different locations (i.e. not in exactly the same place) a few miles from each other.

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