Regional Names

Afrikaans: Leeu French: Lion d’ Afrique
German: Löwe Nama: Xamm
Portuguese: Leão Sesotho: Tau
Shangaan: Ngala Shona: Shumba
Spanish: León Swahili: Simba
Tswana: Tau Xhosa: Isigidi
Zulu: Ingonyama
Average Body Dimensions Trophy Dimensions
Average male mass:  440 – 573 lb (200 – 260 kg) Rowland Ward Minimum: 24” (61,0cm): Method-17
Average shoulder height:  3.9’ (1,20m) Rowland Ward Record: 28¾” (73cm)
Spoor size front:  5.0” (118mm) SCI Minimum (Rifle):  23 / SCI Record (Rifle): 286/16: Method-1
Spoor size rear: 4.8” (121mm) SCI Minimum (Bow):  228/16 / SCI Record (Bow) – 2411/16


Widely distributed in sub-Saharan Africa, but has disappeared from large areas of its former range such as agricultural areas of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. Top trophy areas of late – Tanzania, Botswana, Mozambique.


The most social of all large cat species. Prides average between 3 – 12, but of up to 30 have been recorded. Prides comprise of a dominant male and a dominant female plus a stable core of related females and young and maintain territories which they defend against other lions. Young males disperse from the pride and form coalitions until old enough to displace the pride male. These mail coalitions have to hunt for themselves, but in pride context females conduct most of the hunting at night (preferably) or around dusk or dawn. Lions obviously are nocturnal and sleep or rest throughout most of the day with periods of activity rarely exceeding 4 hours per day.

* Read more in Game Animals of the World by Chris & Tilde Stuart

Hunting tips

There are two primary ways to hunt lions, and hunters are divided as to the ethics of the various methods which will not be commented upon. In reality the habitat, game density and lion behaviour dictate the most appropriate method. One method is to shoot bait and drag body parts around the pride territory to create a scent, followed by hanging the bait on a branch high enough to require a lion to stand upright to reach it. Baits are normally hung under a grass cone to prevent vultures from seeing it. This method is mostly used in fairly dense woodland. When a lion takes the bait it is then fired upon from a downwind hide or machan. A second method, primarily used in sandy areas, is to follow lion tracks from a kill, water or where they crossed a road and track them down. In problem situations such as man-eating, male lion recordings have been played to lure the man-eaters to come defend their territory, but it is generally illegal.

Sexual Differentiation

Males are larger than females and have manes (with the rare exception).

Habitat & Food

Primarily found in woodland and savannah grassland. Occur on desert fringes and sometimes temporarily penetrates very arid areas along drainage lines, but lion are not found in true desert or forest. Lion are carnivores and hunt all species except mature elephant. Males require roughly 15 lb (7kg) of meat per day and females just under 10 lb (4,5 kg).

Rifle & Cartridge Recommendations

Lions are considered ‘soft’ and have highly developed nervous systems. High velocity transition bore cartridges are recommended. Various regional legislative limitations were not consider with recommendations. Readers must determine the legality of cartridges for use on lion themselves.

Rifles : Bolt actions and doubles work well as lion are fast and rarely grant the opportunity of two shots from one rifle.

Bullets : Massive expansion, weigh retaining, fifth generation, sixth and seventh generation bullets are recommended.

Typical Cartridges :

.300 Dakota/Wby Mags/RUM 180-gr bullets
8 x68mms / 8mm Rem Mag 200-gr bullets
.338 Magnums 225-gr bullets
.350 Rigby & .358 Norma Magnums 250-gr bullets
9,3mms 270-gr bullets
.375 Magnums 270-gr bullets

* Read more in African Dangerous Game Cartridges and in African Medium Bore Cartridges by Pierre van der Walt