by Matthew Sterne on August 29, 2017
7 min read

From adorable cubs to snarling, no-nonsense apex predators, there’s a lot to admire about lions. Maybe, more than anything, the fact that they spend between 16 and 20 hours each day resting and sleeping. That’s got to fill them with ‘pride.’

The only social member of the cat family, lions mostly hunt from dusk till dawn. Well, the females do. Male lions defend the pride’s territory while females do most of the hunting. Despite this, the males eat first.

Before we jump into the incredible photos – mostly coming from our year-long photography competition, Africa’s Photographer of the Year – here are a few more interesting facts about lions;

  • A lion’s roar is the loudest of any big cat and can be heard up to 8 km away.
  • Lions were once found throughout Africa, Asia and Europe but now exist only in Africa with one exception. The last remaining Asiatic lions are found in Sasan-Gir National Park in India, which was primarily created to protect the species. Currently, there are approximately 350-400 lions in the park.
  • Entrance to the Tower of London used to be free if you brought a dog or a cat to feed to the lions.
  • Lions’ tongues are huge, pink and covered with sharp papillae, they are rough enough to scrape meat from bones or make human skin bleed.
  • During the mating season, lionesses have sex up to 50 times a day for four days and nights in a row with as many as five males – but each bout lasts only ten seconds.
growling male lion

Snarling male lion

Two lion cubs lying in the grass at sunset

Two lion cubs at sunset

Two young lions sitting in grass

Two young lions sitting in the grass

Large male lion emerging from bushes

Male lion emerging from a bush

Two lion cubs playfully practicing their fighting skills

Two lion cubs play fighting

lion rhino africa

Young lion resting

Namibia's desert lion - Flip Stander

Namibian desert lion
Photo Credit: Flip Stander

Majestic male lion sitting in the grass at sunset

Lion sitting in the grass at sunset

Lion walking slowly out of the mist in Sabi Sand

Lion emerging out of the mist in Sabi Sand

mother lion with two cubs

Mother and her two cubs

black maned lion

Dark-maned male lion

Male lion lying on sand at sunset

Male lion lying between long grass

Young male lion sitting in a tree in the African bush

Young male lion up a tree

Lions sitting on a rock in the African bush

Lions sitting on a rock in the African bush
Photo Credit: William J. Green

Four male lions walking along a dirt road in the African bush

Four male lions walking along a dirt road
Photo Credit: Werner Schmäing

Lion cubs sitting on a rock in the African bush

Lion cubs sitting on a rock
Photo Credit: Tea Riemsdyk

Male lion with his kill

Lion with his kill
Photo Credit: Stefania Urbini

Close-up of a lion cub

Lion cub close-up
Photo Credit: Rodrigues Jorge

Close-up of a lioness licking her lips

Close-up of a lioness
Photo Credit: Neil Preyer

Male lion walking along with a game vehicle in the background

Male lion with a game vehicle in the background
Photo Credit: Peter Gauchel

White lion - Timbavati

A rare white lion
Photo Credit: Phil Judd

Lioness chasing away a male lion

Lioness chasing off a male lion
Photo Credit: Phil Judd

Male lion with a dark mane standing in the African bush

Dark-maned male lion
Photo Credit: Pravin Kumar Vanchi

Lioness drinking water

Lioness drinking
Photo Credit: Neil Preyer

Close-up of a male lion licking his lips

Close-up of a male lion
Photo Credit: Neil Preyer

Male lion scratching his face and mane on a tree

A male lion scratching his mane on a tree
Photo Credit: Mike Walsh

Head of a lion emerging from long grass in Africa

Head of a lion emerging from long grass
Photo Credit: Mike Walsh

Three lion cubs in Africa

Three lion cubs
Photo Credit: Mike Walsh

Male lion emerging from between two trees +

Male lion standing between trees
Photo Credit: Marli Potgieter

Portrait of a lion at night

Lion portrait at night
Photo Credit: Michael Raddall

Herd of lions crossing a river

Lions walking across a river
Photo Credit: Mike Sutherland

Lion cubs being escorted by an adult down a road in the bush

Lion cubs walking along a road
Photo Credit: Mike Sutherland

Lion sitting in long grass by a river

Lion sitting by a river
Photo Credit: Mike Walsh

Portrait of a male lion in long grass

Portrait of a lion in long grass
Photo Credit: Marli Potgieter

Lots of lions up a tree in Africa

Lions up a tree
Photo Credit: Marie Schofer

Photo of a young lion drinking  water

Young lion drinking water
Photo Credit: Liam Donnelly

Lion surrounded by grass

Portrait of a lion surrounded by grass
Photo Credit: Lalith Ekanayake

Snarling male lion

Male lion snarling
Photo Credit: Karin van der Merwe

Young male lion sitting in long grass

Young male lion sitting in long grass
Photo Credit: Jane Pearce

Herd of lions walking along a road in the African bush

Pride of lions walking along a road
Photo Credit: Julie Chapman

Portrait of a lion standing at the edge of a road

Portrait of a lion on the edge of a road
Photo Credit: Karen Feldmeier

Two lion cubs biting a branch with leaves

Two lion cubs biting a branch
Photo Credit: Karin Keller

Lion with a paw over his face

Lion with a paw over his face
Photo Credit: Karin van der Merwe

Four lion cubs drinking from a small puddle of water

Four lion cubs drinking from a puddle
Photo Credit: Jane Pearce

Lion cub trying to play with another member of the herd

Lion cub trying to play with a an adult
Photo Credit: Jane Pearce

Two lion cubs lying and rolling around in the grass

Two lion cubs lying in the grass
Photo Credit: Jane Pearce

Two male lions resting

Two male lions resting
Photo Credit: Jane Pearce

Pride of lions walking along a dirt road in the bush

Pride of lions walking along a dirt road
Photo Credit: James Walker

Close-up of a lion lying in the grass

Close-up of a lion lying in the grass
Photo Credit: David Brims

Male lion walking down the drunk of a fallen tree in the bush

Male lion walking down the trunk of a fallen tree
Photo Credit: Eddie Hyde

Male lying in the grass as the sun sets behind him

Lion lying in the grass at sunset
Photo Credit: Eddie Hyde

A lone lion and tree at dusk

A lone lion at dusk
Photo Credit: Gillian Maskell

Black and white portrait of a lion walking along a road

Black and white portrait of a male lion
Photo Credit: Jacha Potgieter

Lion and her young cub walking

Lion and her cub walking
Photo Credit: David Brims

Close-up of a male lion and his thick mane

Close-up of a male lion
Photo Credit: Danijel Surić

Ariel shot of a lion and its kill

Ariel shot of a lion and its kill
Photo Credit: Oliver Celerier Abidjan

Lions and their kill

Lions and their kill
Photo Credit: Mike Walsh

Baby elephant taken down by a lion with its herd in the background

Baby elephant taken down by a lion with its herd in the background
Photo Credit: Luca Frigerio

Black and white close-up of a lion yawning

Black and white close-up of a lion yawning
Photo Credit: Camille Boerderie

A lion standing among wildebeest and zebra

A lion standing among wildebeest and zebra
Photo Credit: Chase Wells

Backlit silhouette of a lion

Backlit silhouette of a lion
Photo Credit: Clint Ralph

Two lion cubs playing together in the grass

Two lion cubs playing
Photo Credit: Clint Ralph

Portrait of a male lion with a black background

Portrait of a male lion
Photo Credit: Clint Ralph

Two lions walking through long grass together

Two male lions walking through long grass together
Photo Credit: Anton Pretorious

Lion drinking from water at night with another lion close by

Lion drinking from water at night
Photo Credit: Anna-Mart

Lion club playing over a branch

Lion cub playing over a branch
Photo Credit: Anja Immelman

, Pride of Lions in Madikwe having a drink at local waterhole.

Pride of Lions in Madikwe having a drink at a local waterhole
Photo Credit: Alex Maas

Lone lioness walking through long dry grass

Lion lioness walking though long dry grass
Photo Credit: Alex Maas

Two lion cubs in the background of a lioness and her kill

Two lion cubs in the background of a lioness and her kill
Photo Credit: Alpesh Dabasia

Lion lying in lush grass in Africa

Lion lying in lush grass
Photo Credit: Andrew Tudor Morgan