Whilst a lion might be referred to as King of the Jungle, did you know that they don’t actually live in the jungle – or at least, that is what most people think. Whilst that might be a little confusing to get your head around, let us explain.
Lions aren’t known to live in the jungle – especially anymore. In fact, they prefer grassy, open spaces where their pride can create a habitat. When most of us think of jungles, we don’t automatically think of lions roaming through the trees.
Instead, we think of sloths, elephants and chimpanzees.
To really understand where lions live, and why they might not choose a jungle, we need to find out what a jungle actually is. So, let’s get to it!
What is a Jungle?
We all have our own description of what a jungle is, and it doesn’t help that the term has changed throughout the years.
Before the 1970s, anything that looked jungle like, such as a tropical forest, was referred to as a jungle. This didn’t matter whether it was actually mangroves, a rainforest, or even a cloud forest – they were all jungles.
These days, a jungle is described as a place that has a lot of ground level tropical areas which includes forestry, vegetation that is tangled, and an underbush.
Also, due to there being a lot of vines, moss and general bushes and grasses, a human would find it quite difficult to walk through without needing to cut it away.
Whilst similar to a rainforest, there are differences between them both. A jungle doesn’t have high vegetation, and due to the canopy being a lot more sparsem the sunlight can help grow at floor level, making it much drier too.
So, Do Lions Live in the Jungle?
Whilst not common, it isn’t unknown. There is however, a species of lion you may still find wandering the jungle, and that is the Asiatic lion found in India.
It lives in the Gir National Park and the areas surrounding it.
Due to the biome of the area, such as it being a really dry bit of land along with an open forest, it is known as a jungle.
Altogether there are around 300 wild Asiatic lions living there. To put it into comparison how many there are left in the entire world, there are only around 500 Asiatic lions in the world.
Comparing the African lion with the Asiatic lion, they prefer to live in dry areas that are open and full of grass. The thing that both of these lions have in common is the fact they prefer their habitat to be open, rather than closed-off amongst lots of trees.
Why Are They Called King of the Jungle?
Whilst lions aren’t commonly found lurking within the jungle, they are still referred to as King of the Jungle. So, why is that?
It is more to do with the fact they dominate the habitat they live in. This makes them come across as kings – rulers of the place they live.
They are also at the top of the food chain in their habitat. This means that there isn’t really anyone above them who preys on them. Once again, they are the rulers of the land. This is normally known as being an apex predator.
Whilst lion cubs get eaten by wild dogs and hyenas, there isn’t an animal that will purposely venture out to hunt and hurt a lion. It would be silly to even try.
A lion may compete to capture prey alongside cheetahs, leopards and even hyenas, but the strength and size of the lion ultimately puts it in first place.
These other animals will not try and catch the same prey at the same time. If they do, there is no doubt that they will end up getting killed and eaten by a lion.
So, to put it simply, the strength and power of a lion has given it the name King of the Jungle, despite the lion preferring not to live in such an area,
Where do Lions Prefer to Live?
Lions are declining at a rapid rate due to their habitats decreasing because of human intervention and climate change. Unfortunately, this means that a lot of the world’s lions are now found in captivity like zoos, safari and national parks, and wildlife sanctuaries.
Apart from zoos, you will still find lions out in the wild. Some of these places include sub-Saharan Africa in places like Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Botswana.
Other places include the Ethiopian Mountains where you will find the rare and endangered black mane lions, and the Asiatic lions in Gujarat, India.
They prefer open spaces where they can create a habitat to live in with their pride of other lions. They will also seek shade in tall grass or caves to sleep – which they do a lot of!
Sadly, there are only a few thousand lions left in the entire world. They have lost 75% of their habitat in areas like Africa due to how destructive human behavior has been. This could be down to poaching or general changes in the climate.
Final Thoughts on Lions and Their Habitats
Even though lions are referred to as King of the Jungle, there isn’t actually a real reason for it. Most people associate it with them being strong animals that sit at the top of the food chain.
They are also not the kind of animal other animals may want to come up against. This makes them the ruler of their habitat – the King of the Jungle!
Having said that, not everyone refers to a jungle properly. The only known lions that live in a jungle are the Asiatic lions found in a national park in India. Even so, there are very few left in the wild.
Lions tend to prefer open land with tall grass to sleep in. This is very far removed from what a jungle is!