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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who is the Best Fighter of
Picture: James Tyrrell
The manes on the male lions make them look larger and more fearsome. They
protect the neck from blows from the opponent.
People are fascinated with the fastest, the
bravest, the biggest, the smallest etc.
A male tiger throttles a rival male to death
The question I get asked the most is, if a male
lion and a male tiger were to fight, who would win? Its a
hypothetical question because nowhere in the world, in the wilds, do
the lion and tiger co-exist. The social system of the lion and the
tiger are completely different. The tiger's social system is far
closer to a leopard than a lion.
The canines on the male tiger can measure 7.5cm
Claws are extended when fighting and the paw speed defies the human eye.
The largest wild male tiger ever weighed
was 258.2kg and the largest male lion 225kg. Male lions and tigers
are powerful in the fore quarters, but male lions tend to taper
towards the waist where are male tigers are powerful from front to
A male lion and tiger snarling - a fearsome sight
The male lions are slightly longer in the legs
whereas Tigers have shorter, more powerful legs, and are extremely
athletic. The lion is faster over 100m. Lions can be confined
by a 2.4m fence
whereas tigers will need a 4m barrier to hold them. Recently Tigress Julie, at 13 years old, cleared a
3.3m electrical fence. I have filmed Tigress Julie catch both
monkey and baboon high in tree. A lion or lioness could never
accomplish this feat.
The male lion tapers towards the waist, whereas the male tiger is
powerful front and back
In the days of the Romans, it was claimed that when
lions and tigers were put into arenas, the tigers won the fights.
Recently in the Bronx Zoo, a lion and tiger were raised together and
according to the keepers, the tiger won all the fights. The tiger
was described as "the better fighter, like a clever boxer against a
heavy hitter, shrewder and trickier".
However fighting is also about temperament and I
believe one must look to the social system of these two great cats.
Male lions will form coalitions and fight
together. One male attacking from the front, the other male circling
behind for a spine bite to immobilize the opponent.
Young male lions have enough canine length to suffocate an adult buffalo
Male tigers will do a large amount of posturing
and bluffing before engaging in a fight. This is because they are
more of a solitary cat and a serious injury to a male tiger could
Then as stated in
Newsletter 65, aggression is
often genetic. Therefore in a one to one fight an aggressive male
lion may beat a less aggressive male tiger.
Shingalana mock-throttles me as I lie in the classic prey position.
If you study circuses (I hate circuses), you will
seldom if ever see a male lion in a circus act. The reason given is,
they are just too dangerous. Tigers on other hand, are the most
exploited cats in circus acts. Therefore I believe the tigers social
system makes it a less aggressive cat. Pound for pound, I believe the tiger is the strongest cat in the world. The
male lion, because of its social system, will fight more readily.
Shingalana opens her jaws 130 degrees, wider than the length of Gill's
The bite power of the male tiger is superior to
that of the lion. Tiger Seatao regularly cracks large tortoises
that male lion would have no hope of breaking. In 2011, Tiger Seatao killed 180kg lioness with
one bite. (See
Newsletter 41) In terms of strength, I have seen a
male lion kill a 800kg buffalo bull on his own. I have also seen a
male lion pull a 1000kg giraffe bull over the slippery rocks and
across the river.
Tiger Ron killed 4 young eland bulls
during his life. Each weighed 400kg. Tiger Boy at 10months old,
killed an adult eland bull weighing 500kg.
In Asia Tigers used to regularly kill Asian
buffalo and Gaur weighing 800kg -850kg.
Therefore the argument is irrelevant. Rather
admire them for what they are, magnificent predators, strong, fast,
intelligent, beautiful and endangered.
Both lion and tiger are apex predators. They need
space, suitable prey and above all protection from us. (Human
population now exceeds 7 billion).
There are strong indications that the tiger body
parts trade is now putting pressure on the lion. Because lions are
more readily available, they are being killed and their body parts
shipped to China and relabeled "tiger".
It is here in the conserving of large wild areas
and ex-situ conservation projects that we should put our efforts.
Thank you for those who responded to my last
newsletter, the information given was outstanding to say the least.
Tread lightly on the Earth
just recently seen a program featuring John Varty, where he
says that a lion fight does not match that of 2 male tigers
fighting. He favors the tiger in a fight with a lion, also.
in this case....i have to disagree. Here is what lion-tamer
Clyde Beatty had to say, about the lion vs tiger subject, in
his arena, from his book 'Facing the big cats:
scans from the same book:
fight, the lion would win. In the wild, tigers are heavier
(but equal in terms of length & height) by about 5-8%, due
to a higher food intake. But, lions are more aggressive.
Lions live in groups of from 5 to 40 animals, and, despite
all their efforts to avoid it, fights frequently break out
between them. Of course, these fights are scarcely serious,
but they can often get quite heated and some fights turn
fairly violent. Also, when a valuable resource is in danger,
such as when a rival, nomadic male/s invades his territory
while his females are in close proximity, or if the
newcomer/s decides to roar thus making claim of the
territory, the pride male/s will confront the intruders
every time if the odds are similar, and even in 3 out of 8
cases (according to at least one study by Grinnell) when the
odds were against them 3/1. Packer described this behavior
as being suicidal on the lions part.
single lion confronted a group of 3 or 4 lions (and, single
lions have been documented to do so), it is not necessarily
with the intention of fighting (but, sometimes they are
brave enough to fight anyways). But, even that highlights
the aggressive behavior of the lion, as they are willing to
confront challengers (depending upon the circumstances) when
occasionally outnumbered, which speaks well for the lion.
Living in groups, lions are accustomed to fighting, and,
having closer-nit numbers compared to tigers, there fights
with nomadic lions (which in themselves are generally
serious encounters) are that much more frequent. In zoos,
you will here the keepers state that it is easier to get a
lion to come and fight you than it is for a tiger, but that,
at the same time, the first attack of the tiger is more
too find that tigers are more ferocious, as when they
attack, they stake everything on that first attack,
attacking with blue flame fury. However, the lion is
relentless, and keeps on coming. The lion is the more
aggressive animal. In any fights between the 2....it will be
generally the lion that started it. Likewise, once the
fighting has begun, it will be the lion initiating the first
attacks while the tiger is mainly defensive.
Although the lion and tiger fights in a similar manner,
tigers prefer to fight standing up, while lions prefer to
strike with 3 paws on the ground. As this oftentimes allows
the tiger an early advantage in a fight with a lion (being
able to use both paws at once, which = greater frequency of
strikes), the lion soon prevails, as the tiger looses quite
a bit of force from his strikes when standing (higher center
of gravity & less support = 2 legs vs 3), and the lion`s
mane will cushion paw blows, snag claws, and/or allow the
tiger to bite on that (the lion`s mane), rather than on his
neck. Bhagavan Antle explains it well:
There is evidence to suggest that lions have stronger
shoulders, and that, coupled with the manner in which they
strike, means they will generate more force in their blows,
as these next scans/gifs indicate:
next scan was clipped from a google news article, of a
staged fight between a wild adult male Atlas lion, and a
wild adult male Bengal tiger:
next gif image is from the Clyde Beatty film, The Big Cage,
of a fight between an adult male lion and Bengal tiger:
Thanks for your time
Wow, John, what a fabulous e-mail, those
had a black female house cat, she came into
heat and mated with my black and white short
haired male cat. then she went outside and
disappeared for a few days. In due course we
learned she was pregnant. Her litter was
half black and white short hairs and one
huge red striped long hair.
actually know a woman who had two lovers, one
was a black man and one a white man. She had
non-identical twin boys, one is black and the
other is blonde and blue eyed. She is blonde and
blue eyed. Her doctor felt the twins came from
different sperm. She married the black man and
their daughter is moca color with light hair and
light eyes. There is no trace of blackness in
the white twin.
Not the same
as big cats, but it does seem possible. Also women
in a group tend to line up their menses with the
most aggressive female. It seems that nature would
allow females to extend estrus to accommodate the
most genetically desirable mate.
I wish I could
have seen that "dance"
All the best,
I know that with household cats they can do this
thing called induced ovulation. This means that the cat will only
release an egg whilst mating to ensure that the male cat she is
mating with will be the father. However if another male cat came
along he can cause her to release more eggs this creates litters
with multiple fathers.
Interesting article, thank you very much for it.
It seems, for the genomes, reproduction matters above all else (size
and compatibility). Because, the animal (genome that makes up the
animal) knows if one set of litter doesn't pan out properly, it will
have another chance at reproduction and through that it will rectify
any previously made mistakes, or something of that sort. Therefore,
these events tells me that having any is better than having none.
Thank you once again for this very
interesting information. Sorry, I can't be of any assistance
with similar examples/incidences with other animals, similar or
not. I enjoyed the reading.
Cubs from the same litter, having multiple
fathers is something that is well documented, not only for
Feline species but also e.g. for Canines. In Feline species, the
actual ovulation is triggered by the act of mating.
Also in humans cases of twins with two
different fathers are known. This phenomena has a name: