Saturday, May 28, 2011

Lion v. Tiger

Who would win a fight between a lion and a tiger? This is a question that has long exercised inquiring minds. People generally think of lions and tigers as living in separate places – the former in Africa, the latter in Asia. However, there are still Asian lion populations (albeit in areas without tigers), and in the relatively recent past lions and tigers in India had overlapping ranges. Furthermore, there are some plans to reintroduce lions to parts of India that still boast tiger populations, so the question of how a fight between the two species would end up is not entirely abstract.

Thankfully, the University of Minnesota's Lion Research Centre has given some consideration to this important question. Although tigers are bigger than lions, they feel that the lion would have considerable advantages in any conflict with his fellow big cat. For one thing, lions are social animals while tigers are solitary, which would be likely to pit a single tiger against a group of lions, a battle the striped behemoth would be unlikely to win.

In one-on-one battles, the balance would shift somewhat to the tiger. This would be particularly noticeable where a lioness to fight a male or female tiger, as female lions are considerably smaller than their male counterparts, while male and female tigers are equally large. A single male lion, however, might not do so badly against a tiger. For one thing, the lion's mane could confuse the tiger, and the fighting experience male lions earn from laying into each other for access to females would give them an edge over their striped foes.

All in all, it looks like lions would be able to hold their own against tigers, but further research and the reintroduction of lions into tiger ranges is needed before a definitive conclusion can be reached.

More (scroll down to "Who would win in a fight between a tiger and a lion?"

Social Lions image source

Solitary Tiger (and cub) image source

An inuit panda production

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