About the Author

Dean de la Rey

Alumni Ranger

Dean was a guide at Londolozi from 2018 to 2022. He grew up in Johannesburg and it was from his very first trip to the bush at the age of two that he was captivated by this environment (he claims he can remember ...

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on Why do Male Lions Have Manes?

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Interesting blog Dean. I can not imagine a male lion without it’s mane. In the Kalahari lions with dark mane are called black maned Kalahari lions. Some believe or assume they are a different lion species or have different genes to our lions. It is actually all the same species, although I do not know why they are darker. There is probably a scientific explanation that I have not come across yet.

Thank you for the comment Marinda, most of the colouration has to do with genetics. The Lions in the Kalahari are probably due t a string blood line from way back.

That is a great shot of the three Birmingham males!!

Thank you Kate.

That is a great shot of the three Birmingham males!!

Master Tracker

What a good article, I remember seeing an almost white male with an almost white /blonde mane in the Mara but suspect this is quite rare.

Thank you Ian. Yes very rare, I stand to be corrected but the only living, wild, white Lions are in the Timbavati at the moment.

All food for thought…. since male lions grow manes to supposedly lure females for mating purposes, in addition to showing who’s in charge of his territory, it’s curious that the same mane does not exist within the remaining feline species, namely leopards and cheetahs. For the latter, it can be difficult to sex the individuals unless they’re side by side – usually males are larger. Since they scent mark, perhaps that also can deter interlopers. Needless to say it’s all fascinating.

I saw and photographed the female with full mane while spending time in Mombo Camp several years. He/she was enjoying a lazy afternoon with other pride members. Curiously, would a cat like that have an opportunity to mate? Or would her hormones be compromised?! The natural world of animals never ceases to amaze me!!

Extremely Fascinating, thank you for the great comment Denise. very lucky to see that female.

Dean, her name given by Mombo was Martina. Not sure what happened to her …..

Hi Dean. Very interesting article and some super pics as well. Thank you very much. I am particularly impressed with the pic of 2 of the Birminghams have a scrap over mating with the Sparta lioness. Huge amount of power there! Also – the impressive line up of 3 of them – looking very determined …. Thanks again. Wendy M

Thank you for the great comment Wendy.

Dean – Great article – I love the photo of the 3 Birmingham males. I only saw one on last trip to Londolozi in 2018.

Thank you Joan, yes to see them all together happens rarely.

Interesting final thought Dean, since your mane seems intact. Mine not so much, but then fortunately for me I found the lioness of my life when my mane was still in tact!!!

Thank you Bob, had a good chuckle to this comment.

Very interesting post!!

Thank you Callum

Dean, great shots! The one of the 3 males together is awesome!

Thank you Michael and Terri.

Makhulu of the Mapogo coalition had one the most beautiful dark mane of any lion I have ever seen.

why did the females start growing manes and how ?

the picture of the lions fighting is really good and are they fightning for a female?

Hi Moore, yes they were fighting for a female!

thank you

Verrrry interesting!

Great information and photos!

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