Lions live mainly in grasslands and open savannahs as they can find all their prey in that habitat easily. Also, it suits their hunting capabilities and has the perfect climate that a lion needs. But can lions survive in an adverse environment where the food is limited, and conditions are tough?
Do Lions Live In The Desert?
Even though it is known that lions generally live in savannahs and open grasslands, they are capable of living in a wide variety of habitats. There is one type of lion that lives even in the desert. They live in the Namib Desert (one of the oldest and largest deserts in the world and extends to multiple countries like Namibia, Angola, and South Africa).
Apart from its vastness, this desert is known for its unforgiving nature, yet many creatures have adapted to live in it.
The lions that are now living in the Namib Desert have adapted to going without water for an extended period. They even modified their ways of hunting prey.
Since they live in the desert, most of the time, it takes them to travel long distances in order to find prey. Also, as not many creatures live in the desert as they do in the jungle, lions have to settle for smaller prey, such as a mouse, which they would see as a waste of time if it’s in the wild.
Savannah Vs Desert
Whenever we think of a lion, we mostly imagine them in savannahs. So, let’s look at some of the differences between savannah and desert:
- The major difference between a savannah and a desert is the rainfall (the amount of rain the area receives in a certain period). Savannahs, also called grasslands or prairie lands, are areas with insufficient rainfall to support a forest but not so little that a desert is formed. Savannahs look dry and dominant with grass vegetation.
- On the other hand, a desert is a barren landscape with almost no rain (very little rainfall).
Also Read: Do Lions Eat Dead Animals?
Interesting Fact: One-third of the earth’s land surface is covered in deserts (including polar regions, as they are also called “cold deserts”).
How many Lions Live In The Namib Desert?
Not many lions live in the Namib desert, this is due to challenging conditions and conflicts with the local tribes. In a recent survey, it was recorded that around 150 lions are living in the northwest region of the Namib Desert.
What Other Animals Live In The Namib Desert?
We have already discussed that not only lions but a few other animals have adapted themselves to the conditions of the desert and are living in the Namib desert. Other big cats (like cheetahs and leopards), oryxes, foxes, hyenas, rhinos, wild horses, zebras, and even elephants are on the list.
How Do Lions Survive In The Desert?
Despite being the kings of the jungle, lions also need the essential things to survive, but the good thing is they are very adaptive animals.
The heat of the desert and the lack of availability of water resources and food make life very challenging in the deserts, but we can say that some lions have adapted themselves to live even in harsh conditions over generations.
Lions living in the Namib desert look different from those living in the forests. In the course of evolution, their body and nature have gone through some changes that help them survive in the lifeless region.
Desert lions have longer legs, which help them to walk over the scorching hot desert sand (they have longer legs than their counterparts), and they have a slightly thicker coat that protects them at night when the temperature in the desert drops dramatically.
They even shed their manes in the desert to relieve themselves from the scorching heat.
Also Read: Do Lions Eat Their Prey Alive?
They need to travel long distances in search of prey, and the hungrier they get, the more aggressive they become. Hunger made these lions bolder while hunting, and they evolved to tolerate days without food and water.
In general, even lions in savannahs can survive for fourteen days without food and can last for four days without drinking water, but they need to eat at least a hundred pounds of meat after. They eat and drink a lot and store food and water for days.
Just like all other lions, desert lions also live in groups called prides, but as they inhabit the immense areas of the desert that are vastly spread with less food, these lions mostly break into small hunting parties that consist of 2–10 members, as they rely more on stealth, and much less on cooperation, to take down prey and gain food.
Interesting Fact: Lions are highly adaptable and can live in dry areas like the Kalahari Desert. They get most of their water requirement from their prey and will even drink from plants such as the Tsamma melon.
How Do Lions Survive In The Heat?
Heat will dehydrate you and increase the temperature of your body. Lions are intelligent and try to get the required amount of moisture from the blood of their prey if they hunt any.
They also tend to hunt under cover of darkness of dusk or at times during which the desert becomes cooler, and prey has fewer chances of spotting the lions while stalking from a better place. Many animals can’t hunt other animals, and their bodies are not designed to survive in extreme conditions.
Do Mountain Lions Live In The Desert?
Mountain lions, which are also known as cougars, are ferocious predators and are capable of living in almost any habitat. Their ambush hunting behavior and hunting even smaller organisms such as insects and rodents make them adaptive to deserts.
The mountain lion’s diverse diet enables them to survive in the adverse conditions of the desert, where wildlife is rarely available.
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