Do Male Lions Hunt? Why Are Pride Females Primary Hunters?

Male lions have this stigma of being lazy because females in a pride are the primary hunters and catch the prey for the pride. Then male lions get to eat first after the kill when they didn’t help at all.

However, this is not always the case. Male lions hunt as a part of a pride as well, they just don’t do it as often as the females.

While lionesses are the primary hunters in a pride, males will often step in and help subdue larger prey that is too big and strong for the females.

But if you only watch a few videos of lions hunting, you will likely see the females in action and this gives the impression that males don’t do any of the hunting.

Not all adult male lions are a part of a pride and can’t rely on females to do the hunting for them.

Read this article fully to understand the hunting habits of lions and how male lions hunt when not a part of a pride.

Do Male Lions Hunt?

Male lions hunt but lionesses are the primary hunters in a lion pride. Since lionesses do most of the hunting in a pride, the adult male lions are tasked with defending and protecting the pride.

However, if the prey is too big and strong for lionesses to take it down, male lions will step in and help bring the prey down.

Do Male Lions Hunt?

Some prey that male lions help subdue include elephants, Cape buffalo, and giraffes because these prey can overpower lionesses even when the numbers are against them.

In lion prides, females will almost always outnumber male lions. Even though male lions are much stronger, lionesses have more numbers and can strategically hunt and stalk prey due to their higher numbers in a pride.

When male lions are part of a lion coalition, they have no choice but to hunt for their own food because there are no female lions in a lion coalition.

What Do Male Lions Hunt?

Male lions are just as capable to hunt as lionesses, they just choose not to if they have females to do the hunting for them. When male lions are lone males or part of a lion coalition, they will hunt the same type of prey that lionesses hunt.

Their prey includes bigger animals like antelopes, buffalo, zebras, and elephants. However, they will also hunt smaller animals such as birds and rodents when there is an opportunity to do so.

How Do Male Lions Hunt?

Male lions hunt by hiding in thick brush and vegetation, then ambushing prey when the prey gets close enough for them to pounce. Male lions don’t typically hunt out in the open unless there are several of them in the hunt.

Male lions are at a disadvantage if they are hunting solo or in small numbers because it is harder for them to subdue prey in open fields.

Lions rely on numbers to chase and take down bigger prey. If there is only a single lion in the hunt, faster prey such as impalas and zebras can simply outrun the lion.

How Do Male Lions Hunt?

Lions can run at high speeds (around 45 mph) in small bursts but can’t sustain that type of speed for very long, so faster prey are able to get away in these instances.

Prey like buffalo are slower than lions, but they are big and strong and will rarely be taken down by a single lion. That is one of the main reasons that lions hunt in a pack.

To put it in perspective, when lions hunt in pairs and groups, they have about a 25% to 30% success rate in catching and killing their prey. When lions hunt alone, this number drops to between a 17% and 20% success rate.

Lions need to eat about 11 pounds of meat every day to sustain them, so catching rodents and birds aren’t going to provide them with enough meat to live.

While lions will catch and consume smaller prey like birds and such, they prefer going after the bigger prey because they can get a full meal from large prey, especially if there is more than one mouth to feed.

Why Do Female Lions Hunt in a Pride?

Female lions (lionesses) are the main hunters in a pride because they are weaker in males but they typically outnumber the males in a pride.

Since lions have a higher success rate of catching prey in a group, it makes more sense for lionesses to do the hunting because there will be more of them in a pride compared to male lions.

In a lion pride, there are one to three adult male lions and a dozen or more lionesses, along with their cubs. If male lions were in charge of hunting, they would have a lower success rate (as described above) because there are fewer male lions to chase and take down bigger prey.

Do Male Lions Hunt as Pride Males?

Prides need big prey to consume because there are a lot of mouths to feed in the pride.

Although male lions are much stronger than females, they only step in and hunt with the females when the prey is too big and strong for the lionesses to take down on their own.

Lionesses accept that male lions are not the primary hunters because they rely on male lions for protection against other lion coalitions and rogue male lions.

Without male lions, prides would have a hard time surviving because females aren’t as strong as males and can’t defend themselves very well against lion coalitions.

Do Male Lions Hunt as Pride Males?

Male lions don’t usually hunt as pride males. The hunting in a pride is typically done by the females unless the prey is too big and strong for them to take down.

If the prey is too big and strong, male lions will step in and help subdue the prey with the lionesses.

Due to this, male lions are thought to be lazy but in reality, it is just a structured system. Males do the defending and females do the hunting.


In this article, you learned that male lions hunt when it is necessary for them to do so. This is usually when they are not part of a pride and are loners or part of a male lion coalition.

When male lions are a part of a pride, the females take on the role of hunting and the males take on the role of defending the pride.

Male lions are stronger than female lions and need to defend their pride from rogue lions that are attempting to take over the pride.

Females tolerate males not hunting on a regular basis because they understand that if males don’t protect them and another male lion takes over the pride, their lion cubs could be killed.

Male lions taking over a pride will typically kill any lion cubs that aren’t their own and banish or kill the adult male lions that were a part of the original pride.

Male lions hunt the same type of prey that lionesses hunt as part of a pride. This includes bigger prey such as antelopes, buffalo, and zebras. But can also consist of smaller prey like birds and rodents.

Lionesses hunt in numbers and use strategy and numbers to catch their prey. When male lions are loners, they can’t outrun some of the faster prey so they rely on ambushing techniques to catch and kill prey.

I hope you enjoyed this article and want to read more about lions. If you are interested in more content, please check out more about lions here.

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