But the specialty of adult lions when it comes to delineating and defending the borders of their tribe are not always reduced to the imposing attitudes and poses. Frequently, the male competitors must fight great battles in which it is not uncommon for one of them to die or come out deeply wounded. The strongest and most beautiful of the lions that I have ever seen and filmed was found one morning by the guardians of the reserve of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area dead and semi-devoured. Throughout the night before they had heard the terrible roars that accompanied the territorial battle. Apparently, a red mane lion, champion of a neighboring clan, killed the male of the mountain taking advantage of the fact that he became useless, with one of its paws swollen as a result of an infected spine.
This explains my assertion that the male lion is more similar than any other creature to the epic medieval monarchs or the heroic warriors of the Iliad. Adorned by their impressive plumage of its mane, without wasting their energies with the daily tasks of hunting or family duties, proclaiming to the four winds its rights to the territory of his clan, dominating adult lions are maintained and taken care of by the females and by the young males of their clan. For the feline community, even more vital than hunting itself, is the guarantee of possessing a vast territory where others from their own species will not be able to enter, in order to preserve the high amount of herbivore animals that the tribe needs to feed on.
But, in addition to the battles with males of other clans, within the groups themselves there is always a rigid hierarchy between the lions and the semi-adult lions. As soon as a leader loses strength due to aging or injury from a battle, his immediate inferior defies him inexorably and occupies his post if he wins the battle.
Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente.
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®Arturo Ramo García.-Record of intellectual property of Teruel (Spain) No 141, of29-IX-1999 Plaza Playa de Aro, 3, 1º DO 44002-TERUEL