This is the Only Place in the World Where Lions Live Alone

There is a desert in northern Kenœya where you can find lions living in solitude instead of in prides.

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Photo by Beverly Joubert @beverlyjoubert | Today is World Lion Day. The dominant male of the Tsaro pride at Duba Plains in the Okavango surveys the wide-open landscape from an unusual perch. Duba's lions are known for their swimming prowess—essential in their watery environment and a skill that has made them highly muscular and some of the biggest lions to be found. Recently, we've noticed that these innovative lions are increasingly using trees as a vantage point from which to plan a hunt. The lionesses have become rather good at it. This male did not manage to descend quite as comfortably as he climbed up. Unlike leopards, lions' ankle joints have not evolved to grip branches—and on the way down, he ended up in a highly undignified tumble. This arboreal experiment may not have worked out perfectly for him; however, seeing these lions constantly pushing their hunting strategies in this difficult ecosystem is promising for the future—one that is increasingly precarious in a changing climate and in shrinking habitat. It shows that lions can adapt and learn to use their environment to their advantage. But judging from the fact that there are more statues of lions left in the world than actual lions, we know that we have to do all that we can to help these big cats, no matter how innovative they are. Ten years ago, together with @dereckjoubert and @NatGeo, we set up the Big Cats Initiative as a long-term effort to halt their decline in the wild. To date, this has supported more than 120 innovative projects in 28 countries, all helping big cats and communities thrive. To learn more about the #BigCatsInitiative this #WorldLionDay or to help, please visit

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Shivani Bhalla, founder of an organization that promotes coexistence between humans and wildlife called Ewaso lions, moved to the Samburu region in Kenya in 2002, only to end up surprised about not seeing prides of lions. In fact, this is the only place in the world where you can see lions leading perfectly nice lives without a pride to back them up.

As she learned from the local people, there are around 50 lions living in the area but they don’t stick together. “Everyone keeps labeling lions as the only social cat, but they’re not really social here,” Bhalla tells National Geographic. Her research about the lions has been published in her Ph.D. dissertation.

Some of the reasons not to form prides include not having to share food, and there’s definitely no abundance of it in Samburu. Also, the lions living there would have a hard time maintaining a defined territory as everything is patched up among protected areas and community areas. Surprisingly, the arrangement these animals came up with is actually the best they could hope for.