If a tiger fought a lion, which animal would win?

Answer By Rory Young

I am going to specifically answer this in terms of one male tiger going up against one male lion.

Although female lions hunt as prides, male lions spend most of their lives alone. They are forced out of the pride when they reach around two years.

If they manage to take over a pride of their own they will usually only manage to keep it for a couple of years. During the time they have a pride they will spend most of their time fighting off potential usurpers.

When they do not have a pride they frequently fight with other solitary males that they bump into and of course pride males in their attempts to take control of a pride.

So, a male lion spends his life fighting. In fact they spend so much time fighting and not eating properly and stressed out that they only live to about ten years old while females usually live to about fifteen.

The reason a male lion has a mane is for defense in fighting. They fight like wrestlers, facing off, gripping each other and trying to overpower each other. I have watched them fighting many times and have come across two dead males over the years. Both had been bitten through the spine. From what I have read, this is pretty much the norm.

So, the mane is a pretty effective defense in a cat-fight. To get round it requires some serious dominance in the fight as it means out wrestling the opponent to the point of being able to bite them through the spine. Tigers do not have this defense.

Photo: Examples of extraordinary battles in nature

Tigers are solitary animals and although heavier than lions, they are shorter than lions at the shoulder. The weight difference is about 15% which is significant but not enough I believe to mean an overwhelming advantage for tiger, especially since they have a height disadvantage.

In terms of behaviour, male tigers usually solve their disputes via display and intimidation, preferring to avoid each other. Now in terms of fighting, this lack of experience when going up against a pro IS an overwhelming disadvantage.

This is like putting a heavy inexperienced amateur fighter in ring with a taller, leaner professional with a mean history of fights under his belt.

A no-brainer. The lion wins hands down. Size really isn’t everything..

EDIT: Yes, I agree a tiger in a zoo will kill a lion. The whole point I have been making here is that a male lion would probably win against a male tiger because a male lion has a lifetime experience of fighting other male lions. Male tigers do not usually fight except occasionally over a female in oestrus. A lion that had grown up in a zoo would obviously not have gained the experience!

 

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Which animal will best represent your personality and why?

Answer by Rory Young:

Photo:Benny Van Zyl

The Honey Badger

That’s the cheeky one on the left confusing the lion with his willingness to take him on.

For some reason I have always admired, loved and identified with them. I don’t know how much I resemble a honey badger but I like to think I do and I certainly admire and strive for many of their qualities.

The go about their business with determination and don’t look for trouble. If you leave them alone they will leave you alone.

They are not the biggest or the strongest but they can take more punishment than any other animal by far.

They are much smarter than generally realized and are especially adaptable and resourceful. They are even known to use tools. Throw a curve ball at them and they will growl and grouch and then just get on with doing what has to be done. They NEVER give up.

They are much more gregarious than people imagine too but when they want to be left alone though just leave them be. They are caring and loving parents and will fight to the death to protect their young.

Most importantly they make me laugh. Maybe because I see something of myself in them maybe not but they always seem to defy and then beat the odds. I hope by the time I have lived all there is to live that I will have been a Honey Badger.

P.S. Thanks for the A2A.

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Do hyenas and canines hunt in packs because of their size, the size of their prey and terrain limitations? Also, how different are the hu…

Answer by Rory Young:

This is a really good question but also difficult because of the three species of hyaenas only the Spotted Hyena is gregarious and hunts in groups. Also, Hyaenas are more closely related to cats than canines. The behaviour differs to both cats and canines. I will refer only to the Spotted Hyaena as I believe this is what the question refers to.

With Spotted Hyaenas hunting usually initiated by one animal and a few others will then join in but more likely to be successful with larger game. Hyaenas do not use coordinated teamwork to bring down prey.  In other words the group activity is more a case of opportunism on the part of the others joining the hunt than a team effort per se.

They do not hunt in groups because of their size, the size of their prey and terrain limitations and this is evident from the wide variety of the size and type of prey. They are simply opportunistic/versatile and will hunt in whatever manner is more likely to be successful and in the case of larger game this will more likely be successful for a group of hyaenas and in the case of smaller game will often be more successful hunting singly.

African Wild Dogs (Lycaon pictus) are cursorial hunters, running down their prey in coordinated groups. They rarely hunt singly and there is much “ritual” or group “psyching up” prior to hunting, reinforcing the group bonds and “oneness”. They work as a a team and this extends to everything they do. They allow the youngest to eat first rather than the most dominant, which I believe is unique.

Wild Dogs will put all their efforts into raising one litter which is produced by the alpha male and alpha female. This includes dogs regurgitating food for the litter, mother and any other animals that have stayed behind. They also look after sick animals by regurgitating food for them and allowing them to remain at the den when the others hunt. There is a male and a female hierarchy and only the alpha male and alpha female mate with all the efforts of the entire pack going into raising the one litter.

Spotted Hyaenas are a matriarchal society and all females are dominant over all males. There is one alpha female and although there will be a dominant male among the males there is no alpha pair. The females are larger and have a pseudo-penis, mounting other females and males to assert dominance. Mating takes place through the pseudo genitalia with the male sliding under the female  ( Sexual behavior of spotted hyenas).

Spotted Hyaena clans are closely knit but nowhere near as closely as Wild Dog packs and overall the behaviour is different in a number of significant ways.

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Hypothetical Questions: If I wanted to approach dangerous wild animals on foot, could I do it safely and how would I go about it?

Answer by Rory Young:

This picture (courtesy J. Levenderis) shows the legendary Zimbabwean game ranger, the late “Oom Willie De Beer” tangling with a wild elephant bull. His rifle can clearly be seen hanging of his arm and not pointed at the bull and he actually has his hands on the elephant’s tusks. This incredible man had an uncanny understanding of animal behaviour. You can also see the bull’s head is down but his ears are forward and his head is down. He is also leaning towards Oom Willie. He is having a tussle not trying to kill. If he were intending to kill his ears would be back and he would be flailing with his trunk, goring with his tusks and trampling with his feet. By the way, Oom Willie was in his seventies when this picture was taken!

There are two ways to approach any dangerous animal on foot.

I will use Elephants as examples in this reply but there are important differences between different animals and their behaviour that affects how you approach them; if you do so at all. Every species and every individual is different
I will also answer as a guide/ranger.

Before you decide to approach, you assess the animal or animals. You take into account the gender, the condition, the demeanor, the age and anything else that could affect it’s behaviour.

The first way of approaching wild animals is known as a “guiding approach” or “open approach”. You approach the animal openly, letting it know you.are there.
For dangerous game that is not shy, this is usually the best option because it allows you to gauge the animal’s response to you. For example, elephants use just as much body language as we do, if not more as they have a trunk and huge movable ears to throw into the mix.

The approach is nearly always best done diagonally, at an angle. Imagine a big dog that you didn’t know just walked straight up to you. That would feel intimidating wouldn’t it? That is how wild animals feel too about other Species approaching them. Bear in mind that we walk on our hind legs and we show more of the whites of our eyes than any other animal. Showing the whites of your eyes to most species means fear or aggression. We also smile, showing our teeth. Nearly all animals, except some apes (and my dumb but beloved dogs), see showing your teeth as a threat display (and damn rude). Don’t smile at wild animals!

Often, as you approach – which is best done diagonally to the animal and not directly –  you will deliberately make some sort of subtle noise to let them know you are there, such as tapping your rifle stock quietly.

Once the animal knows you are approaching they will let you know how they feel about that. They may just carry on munching their food and gaze at you, which of course is a pretty good sign.

Let’s look at an older bull elephant first. Let’s say he is healthy, having a good day and is roughly 30 years old. The first sign that he elephant is aware of you is that he raises his ears upwards.This would be the equivalent of you tensing up when someone who really makes you nervous walks into the room.You might tense your  shoulders, clench your fists or purse your lips (sorry here I think I’m a bit better with elephants than people).

Then he will turn and face you. They put their trunk into the air to catch your scent and put their ears forward to listen. Usually if he catches your scent he will shake his head and snort, with the ears making a slapping noise. This is basically telling you that you stink and should piss off.

At this stage I like to just wait. The elephant usually does the same and will often twirl a clump of grass(just like a person twirling a lock of their hair whilst thinking) and look  a bit dumb. He may also raise his head and put forward his ears. Putting his head up is a sign of dominance and putting his ears forward is meant to intimidate and let you know how big he is as if somehow he wasn’t big enough. Bear in mind their language is that spoken between elephants so he will “speak” as one elephant does to another.

It is important at this stage to make clear that you are willing to move off but also that you won’t take any nonsense.  Ideally you both walk off at an angle to each other. However, you could get a “mock charge”.

A mock charge is when a bull charges with the intention of scaring you. He will do so with his head up and ears forward and trumpet. If you don’t run and wait for just the right moment to shout, lift your hands or rifle in the air and even throw something at him, he will stop and reconsider (mock charges can develop into “full charges). He will very likely throw dust or sticks from the ground at you and kick dust at you.

With experience the behaviour and body language of elephants can be very well understood and professional guides and rangers even “tangle with them”, having a battle of wills for dominance where everything except touching is “allowed”.
The second way of approaching wild animals is known as a “hunting approach” or “concealed approach” whereby you stalk the animal as you would to hunt it, i.e. not letting it know that you are there. This can be very non-intrusive but also potentially dangerous. You have not had the benefit of the animals responses to an open approach and therefore don’t know how it is going to react if it suddenly notices you are there.

Now, that was an example of a laid back bull elephant. As mentioned, you first assess gender and other points. If it was a female, I would only look from a distance and wouldn’t let her know I was there.

With regards to condition, if the bull was in Musth, for example, I wouldn’t go anywhere near it. I would also make sure he had no idea I was anywhere near. If he did there would be a big chance of a “full charge”.

A full charge is when an elephant puts his ears bag it’s head down and charges full speed at you. Bear in mind that an elephant has no idea who you are but will instinctively know from hundreds of thousands of years of evolving in the same environment and geographical location as us, that we are really bad news. Therefore a full charge for an elephant is the equivalent of a Kamikaze pilot taking the final suicide dive. It means the elephant has totally committed to a fight to the death and as a guide/ranger you have only one option left and that is to shoot.

This is why I am dead against walking guides/rangers going to close too often on foot. Eventually there will be a full charge and the elephant or the ranger or those accompanying him will end will end up dead. In Zimbabwe it will mean the elephant is dead as the guides are extremely well trained. In most other countries it will mean the guide and clients are dead.

With regards to age, older animals will tend to be less “spunky” and more inclined to a full charge when they do finally get annoyed. Young elephants are usually the opposite, just like human teenagers, full  nonsense , lots of noise but run to Mommy as soon as the going gets tough! I openly admit to playing games with these types from time to time (the elephants that is not the teenagers).

As mentioned, females are dangerous. They are just like most working mothers; stressed, tired, in a hurry. You don’t want to mess with them and especially not with their kids!

Playing with dangerous game is a dangerous game! Respect them!

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How do you approach dangerous wild animals on foot?

Rory Young

There are two ways to approach any dangerous animal on foot.

I will use elephants as examples in this reply but there are important differences between different animals and their behaviour that affects how you approach them; if you do so at all. Every species and every individual is different

I will also answer as a guide/ranger.

Before you decide to approach, you assess the animal or animals. You take into account the gender, the condition, the demeanor, the age and anything else that could affect it’s behaviour.

The first way of approaching wild animals is known as a “guiding approach” or “open approach”. You approach the animal openly, letting it know you.are there.

For dangerous game that is not shy, this is usually the best option because it allows you to gauge the animal’s response to you. For example, elephants use just as much body language as we do, if not more as they have a trunk and huge movable ears to throw into the mix.

The approach is nearly always best done diagonally, at an angle. Imagine a big dog that you didn’t know just walked straight up to you. That would feel intimidating wouldn’t it? That is how wild animals feel too about other species approaching them. Bear in mind that we walk on our hind legs and we show more of the whites of our eyes than any other animal. Showing the whites of your eyes to most species means fear or aggression. We also smile, showing our teeth. Nearly all animals, except some apes (and my dumb but beloved dogs), see showing your teeth as a threat display (and damn rude). Don’t smile at wild animals!

Often, as you approach – which is best done diagonally to the animal and not directly –  you will deliberately make some sort of subtle noise to let them know you are there, such as tapping your rifle stock quietly.

Once the animal knows you are approaching they will let you know how they feel about that. They may just carry on munching their food and gaze at you, which of course is a pretty good sign.

Let’s look at an older bull elephant first. Let’s say he is healthy, having a good day and is roughly 30 years old. The first sign that he elephant is aware of you is that he raises his ears upwards.This would be the equivalent of you tensing up when someone who really makes you nervous walks into the room.You might tense your  shoulders, clench your fists or purse your lips (sorry here I think I’m a bit better with elephants than people).

Then he will turn and face you. They put their trunk into the air to catch your scent and put their ears forward to listen. Usually if he catches your scent he will shake his head and snort, with the ears making a slapping noise. This is basically telling you that you stink and should piss off.

At this stage I like to just wait. The elephant usually does the same and will often twirl a clump of grass(just like a person twirling a lock of their hair whilst thinking) and look  a bit dumb. He may also raise his head and put forward his ears. Putting his head up is a sign of dominance and putting his ears forward is meant to intimidate and let you know how big he is as if somehow he wasn’t big enough. Bear in mind their language is that spoken between elephants so he will “speak” as one elephant does to another.

It is important at this stage to make clear that you are willing to move off but also that you won’t take any nonsense.  Ideally you both walk off at an angle to each other. However, you could get a “mock charge”.

A mock charge is when a bull charges with the intention of scaring you. He will do so with his head up and ears forward and trumpet. If you don’t run and wait for just the right moment to shout, lift your hands or rifle in the air and even throw something at him, he will stop and reconsider (mock charges can develop into “full charges). He will very likely throw dust or sticks from the ground at you and kick dust at you.

With experience the behaviour and body language of elephants can be very well understood and professional guides and rangers even “tangle with them”, having a battle of wills for dominance where everything except touching is “allowed”.

The second way of approaching wild animals is known as a “hunting approach” or “concealed approach” whereby you stalk the animal as you would to hunt it, i.e. not letting it know that you are there. This can be very non-intrusive but also potentially dangerous. You have not had the benefit of the animals responses to an open approach and therefore don’t know how it is going to react if it suddenly notices you are there.

If anyone would like then I will post some pictures of rangers/guides doing all of this to my blog Anomie’s Child Some of these are quite spectacular.

Now, that was an example of a laid back bull elephant. As mentioned, you first assess gender and other points. If it was a female, I would only look from a distance and wouldn’t let her know I was there.

With regards to condition, if the bull was in Musth, for example, I wouldn’t go anywhere near it. I would also make sure he had no idea I was anywhere near. If he did there would be a big chance of a “full charge”.

A full charge is when an elephant puts his ears bag it’s head down and charges full speed at you. Bear in mind that an elephant has no idea who you are but will instinctively know from hundreds of thousands of years of evolving in the same environment and geographical location as us, that we are really bad news. Therefore a full charge for an elephant is the equivalent of a Kamikaze pilot taking the final suicide dive. It means the elephant has totally committed to a fight to the death and as a guide/ranger you have only one option left and that is to shoot.

This is why I am dead against walking guides/rangers going to close too often on foot. Eventually there will be a full charge and the elephant or the ranger or those accompanying him will end will end up dead. In Zimbabwe it will mean the elephant is dead as the guides are extremely well trained. In most other countries it will mean the guide and clients are dead.

With regards to age, older animals will tend to be less “spunky” and more inclined to a full charge when they do finally get annoyed. Young elephants are usually the opposite, just like human teenagers, full  nonsense , lots of noise but run to Mommy as soon as the going gets tough! I openly admit to playing games with these types from time to time.

As mentioned, females are dangerous. They are just like most working mothers; stressed, tired, in a hurry. You don’t want to mess with them and especially not with their kids!

Playing with dangerous game is a dangerous game!