Lions are the second heaviest cat in the world (after tigers) and the undisputed apex predator in Africa. Despite this, lion numbers have suffered a 50% reduction in the past 2 decades and it is conflict with humans, loss of habitat and reduction in prey items which is thought to be responsible. Major prey species include wildebeest, buffalo, impala, warthogs and zebra. Within a pride, it is chiefly the lionesses that hunt but males are forced to if they are a member of a bachelor group. A group of lionesses will work together and patiently stalk a herd of prey. When they are close, a short chase will ensue until an animal is caught and killed by strangulation or occlusion of a carotid artery.
This lioness was photographed in the little visited northern sector of South Luangwa National Park, an area that we were able to visit during a 12 hour game drive. Four unattended cubs were hidden away in thick bush about 500m from this lioness and it is possible that she is their mother.