Our guests were very lucky with the sighting of this black maned male lion lying in the road on Tshepe drive in Pilanesberg National Park
We were on our way to Mankwe dam after entering the park at Kwa-Maritane Gate and we only drove about 10km before we spotted this dark maned lion male lying in the road.
The guests wanted to know why lions have manes and my answer was the following.
There is serious competition between males over territory and female prides. As with any predator, it will rather intimidate a rival than risk injury and starvation as a result of not being able to hunt. The mane’s function is then probably to make the male look larger and stronger.
Vicious encounters can’t always be avoided and when they do fight they suffer massive blows to the head, neck and shoulder area and it is speculated that the mane then also acts as a shock absorber.
There are probably several more functions for the male loin’s large mane but these are the most obvious.
Some also say that the females in certain areas prefer males with black manes over males with lighter coloured manes.
One thing which is not a speculation is that we all enjoyed the game drive. Any lion sighting makes a South African safari worth while and the king of the African bush surely made our hearts skip a few beats when he stared at us.