Contrasting levels of social distancing between the sexes in lions

Stotra Chakrabarti, Joseph K. Bump, Yadvendradev V. Jhala, Craig Packer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding sexual segregation is crucial to comprehend sociality. A comparative analysis of long-term lion data from Serengeti and Ngorongoro in Tanzania, and Gir in India, reveals that male-female associations are contingent upon male and female group size, prey-size and availability, and the number of prides that each male coalition currently resides. Males maintain proximity with females, whereas females are responsible for segregation except at large kills. Lions feed on the largest prey in Ngorongoro and the smallest in Gir, and females spend the most time with males in Ngorongoro and the least in Gir. Females roar less often in prey-scarce circumstances in Serengeti and throughout the year in Gir possibly to prevent being tracked by males that parasitize on female kills. However, females readily associate with males when available prey is large and abundant. Contrasting availability of resources between Gir and Serengeti/Ngorongoro helps explain the varying degrees of sexual segregation and appears to drive differences in mating systems between these lion populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102406
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 21 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Ministry of Environment Forests & Climate Change, India; Gujarat Forest Department; Tanzanian Wildlife Research Institute; and Tanzanian National Parks for granting permissions and facilitation of the study. We thank all the researchers and field assistants working in the Gir Lion Project and Serengeti Lion Project for their hard work and perseverance in the field. S.C. would like to personally thank Ninad Mungi for his help with spatial data, Mayank Kohli, Aamod Zambre, and Manjari Roy for providing inputs on an earlier version of the manuscript, and Aarush De for his help with Figure 1 . Also, as this paper was drafted during the “unprecedented” times of a pandemic, S.C. acknowledges the mental support provided by Rupa Chakraborty, Stabak Chakrabarti, Ankita Chakraborty, Debalina De, Subhadeep De, Nancy Gibson, Ron Sternal, Amy Schrank, and Sreyashi Ray. The research was supported by grants from the NSF programs in Psychobiology, Population Biology, and Long-Term Research in Environmental Biology (LTREB) to C.P., and Department of Science and Technology , India grant ( SERB/F/0601/2013-2016 ) and funds provided by the Wildlife Institute of India to Y.V.J.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • Animals
  • Biological Sciences
  • Ecology
  • Ethology
  • Zoology

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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