It’s seldom that people get to witness this process. We came across a defense of his territory by a lion several years ago in the Maasai Mara. We were watching a small pride – a male, two females and two young cubs – when, our guide, David Kariithi spotted a male lion approaching in the distance. David positioned our vehicle on a small rise so we could watch the anticipated action. The females spotted the intruder first and went out towards him. When the intruder saw the females, he quickly went down into the grass. Although we didn’t hear anything, I think the pride male did. He suddenly lifted his head with his ears toward the females. Then he jumped up and took off running – right at the place where the other male lion was hiding – even though we knew he couldn’t see the intruder. The intruder took off – we were unable to follow the chase because of the terrain. Within a few minutes, the pride male came back. He was greeted by the females and then laid down and took a nap.
David explained that the intruder was a younger male looking for a pride to take over but wasn’t strong enough to really challenge a male in good condition. So he goes around testing each pride until he, hopefully, finds one he may be able to take over.