Do Lions Live in the Desert? Desert Too Extreme for Lions?

Lions have the ability to adapt to many different environments, but do lions live in the desert?

Deserts are such hostile environments for any mammals trying to survive and thrive, so lions definitely don’t live there right?

Wrong! While the number is very low, there is a population of lions living in deserts today.

I must stress this number is a very small fraction and most lions live in more suitable environments such as grasslands and woodlands.

For the small population of lions that inhabit deserts, read on to find out why and how lions live in the desert.

Do Lions Live in the Desert?

Lions live in the desert but the population of lions that live in the desert is only a small fraction of the lion population living in the world today.

Desert environments such as the Namibia desert, are not ideal for most animals because of how hot, dry, and desolate these environments can be.

Water is limited and almost non-existent in many parts of a desert. Life can have a hard time thriving in desert environments and lions are no exception.

Do Lions Live in the Desert?

While there is a small population of lions that live in deserts, the majority of lions live in grasslands and woodlands that are more suitable for their life and their prey.

Since water is scarce and animals require water to survive, there isn’t much prey found in deserts for lions and other predators to hunt.

Predators are known to live and migrate wherever their prey does, so it is only logical that lions would prefer open grasslands and woodlands over hunting in the desert.

Prey will be more plentiful in grasslands and woodlands where there are more resources such as water and food compared to hot, dry, and desolate deserts.

Why Do Lions Live in the Desert?

Lions live in the desert for the same reason any animals live in the desert. It just happens to be a habitat that certain lions have adapted to in order to survive.

Lions found in deserts do have to make certain sacrifices compared to their grassland counterparts.

Prey is not found in high numbers nor is a lot of larger prey found wandering the deserts. Due to this, lion prides will typically be a lot smaller than that of prides that live in the savanna.

As for why lions live in the desert, it is just where some lions were born and they have become accustomed to the environment.

Lions adapt to the environment in which they live. Sometime in the past, more lions lived in deserts when the climates weren’t as extreme as they are today.

But as time went on and environments changed, fewer and fewer lions called deserts their home.

Lions that live in deserts today, do so because it is the environment they have adapted to and have mastered their skills for that environment.

I think it probably goes without saying, but I’m sure if lions had a choice, they would much rather live in open grasslands and near large watering holes. However, ignorance is bliss.

How Do Lions Survive in the Desert?

How Do Lions Survive in the Desert?

It is common knowledge that deserts are hot and dry. As an animal or human, it is not the most pleasant environment to live.

Water and food are scarce in most areas of deserts and many animals have to either stay on the move to find more resources or honker down and avoid the heat as much as possible.

Deserts are some of the most hostile environments on the planet because of how hot, dry, and unforgiving they can be on life.

That being said, lions are adaptable animals and can live in almost any environment – except for the extremely cold parts of the world (most animals would have a hard time surviving in those types of conditions).

Lions live in the desert and can survive there by relying on prey for food and water. Since water is scarce in desert environments, lions can get most of their water intake from the prey that they eat.

The population of desert lions is very small as it is not the ideal environment for most life, but lions living in deserts, seem to have figured it out or at the very least, survive there.

Lions live in warm climates no matter where they are found, so it is no surprise that some lions can also be found in deserts.

Lions mostly regulate their body heat through heat exchange with the skin barrier and by panting.

In extremely hot environments like deserts, lions will rest in the shade when available and will switch areas or shift positions throughout the day to keep cooler and avoid direct sunlight.

To avoid the most extreme parts of the day, lions will be more active at night when it is cooler so that they don’t overexert or overheat during the hottest parts of the day.

Do Lions Live in the Sahara Desert?

The Sahara Desert in Northern Africa is the largest desert found on the planet. This desert extends across most of Northern Africa.

While this desert is vast and wide, lions do not live within the Sahara Desert.

The vast majority of lions live south of the Sahara Desert and not many lions live in deserts with the population estimated to be around 100 or so desert-adapted lions.

Why Do Lions Live in the Desert?

Lions thrive in more open environments with tall grass for concealment when hunting.

While a small population of lions lives in deserts today, deserts are not suitable for lions because of the hot, dry environment that contains little food and water supplies.

Due to these factors, it is not likely to find any lions living within the Sahara Desert.

How Do Lions Survive Extreme Heat?

Lions survive extreme heat by regulating their body temperatures in several different ways:

  • Lions find shade when available and will even stay in the shade of fellow lions to stay cooler
  • Lions pant when they are too hot from being active and overexertion
  • Lions tend to be more active at night to avoid the most extreme temperatures of the day
  • Lions get much of their water intake from the prey they consume when in hot, dry environments
  • Lions will move throughout the day and shift their positions to find cooler spots and shade

Lions have been around for a long time and can adapt to most environments.

Since lions are used to living in some of the hotter environments found around the planet, the extremely hot environments don’t deter some lions from living in hot, dry deserts.


In this article, you learned that some lions live in the desert because it is the habitat they know. Not because it is the habitat they chose.

Although some lions live in the desert, the population is only a handful compared to the population of lions that live in savannas and mostly open environments.

Lions have adapted to live in most environments, including deserts.

The small few that call deserts their home have adapted by avoiding the extreme heat during the day, being mostly active at night, and regulating their body temperature through the skin, paws, and panting.

To conclude, some lions live in the desert but this is not their ideal environment and they have to make sacrifices to survive and continue on.

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