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Groups of Lions: The Most Social Feline

Lions are the most social wild feline species, and they regularly live in groups. These groups can consist of a pair of lions, but they can also live in groups of up to 40 individuals. They take advantage of the group when hunting, defending, and raising the young.

Most wild felines are solitary and only meet up when mating. Lions are different. They are inherently social animals, and most of them live in a type of group.

Living in groups gives lions many advantages over a solitary lifestyle. They can better defend their territories against enemies, including other lions. The group offers them safety and allows them to take fewer risks while hunting or raising cubs.

But what are lion groups called, do all lions live in a group, and how do they behave within that group?

In this article, we’ll discuss the social behavior of lions and see how these felines organize themselves into different groups.

What Is a Group of Lions Called?

There are two main types of lion groups, called prides and coalitions. Coalitions are made up exclusively of males, generally young ones. Related lionesses form prides, and they may associate with one or several males. Coalitions can group together with prides.

Lions are social animals that usually cooperate within groups called prides, and coalitions. They can also form smaller groups of only two lions, called pairs.

Lion Prides

Lion Prides
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Prides are the main type of lion group and this is how most lions live their lives. 

Prides are the largest group type that lions form, which have an average between 15 and 20 members. Rarely, prides have up to 40 members. 

A pride usually has several females, at least one resident male, and their cubs. Prides can also function with or without males.[1]

A group of related females is the base of a pride. These females are generally born into the pride and they rarely leave it. They don’t accept outside females, and their male cubs will also have to leave their pride when they are old enough.

Besides the lionesses, a lion pride may also have one or several male members. The males are also generally related to each other but originate from a different pride than the females.

If a pride has more than one “resident” male we can assume the male were together in a coalition before joining. Old males are constantly usurped by younger, stronger ones.

Lion Coalitions

Lion Coalitions
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Coalitions are groups of lions made up exclusively of males. These males are generally related as they originate from the same natal pride. Coalitions have up to seven members.

The main purpose of a coalition is to allow males to cooperate and “control” prides of females. A coalition of males can be residents in more than one pride at a time.[2]

Coalitions control larger territories than prides, but they are at constant risk of being ousted by other coalitions. It can take coalitions several years to gain residency in a pride, with its lions being between 3 and 8 years old.[3]

Coalitions that don’t have residency in a pride are called nomad coalitions.

Do All Lions Live in Groups?

No, some lions don’t live in groups. Both lions and lionesses can be nomads, lions that aren’t tied down to any pride. Besides nomad coalitions, pairs of males, single males, and even females can be nomads.

Not all lions live in a group such as a coalition or pride. Some lions are forced to live a solitary lifestyle. They are called nomads, but unlike nomad coalitions or pairs, they are all alone.

Generally, lone nomads are young lions that have recently left their natal pride and haven’t yet found another group. Both males and females can be lone nomads.

Usually, young males leave their natal pride and form coalitions or at least pairs. Sometimes they may have to strike out alone. 

Lone females are rare as they usually leave their birth pride with other females when it has too many members.

What Kind of Lions Live in Groups?

Most lions live in groups, only solitary nomads live by themselves. Solitary lions are more common among the Asiatic lion population. Lions are inherently social animals and prefer living in groups.

The majority of lions live in some sort of group:

  • Prides: Groups of females, cubs, and one or several resident males.
  • Coalitions: Groups of males that can be nomads or residents in a pride.
  • Pairs: Nomadic pairs of lions or lionesses that are looking for a larger group.

The only lions that live by themselves are solitary nomads. These nomads are at a disadvantage compared to groups of lions. Even though lions are strong by themselves, they are stronger together.

Male Asiatic lions are less social than their African counterparts and solitary lions are more common. Lions also have looser connections with a pride. Males and females generally only associate when mating.[4]

What Kind of Lions Live in Groups

How Many Lions Live Together in a Group?

Lion group sizes vary, but prides can have as many as 40 members. Most prides are much smaller, having 12 to 15 members on average. Male coalitions are smaller, having between 2 and 7 members. Asiatic lions generally live in smaller groups than African lions.

Lion group size varies from region to region, with African lions usually living in larger groups than Asiatic lions:

  • African lions: Prides generally have around 15 members and coalitions anywhere between 2 and 7.
  • Asiatic lions: Prides are smaller on average with up to 12 females. Coalitions are also smaller with only 3 to 4 males cooperating.

Although rare, large prides of 30 to 40 individuals were observed.[5]

Do Lions Hunt in Groups?

Yes, lions regularly hunt in groups. These apex predators take advantage of group strategies to catch large prey with fewer risks and a higher success rate. They can also hunt by themselves.

Lions usually hunt in groups. In a pride, females do the hunting, even if they have male residents. Males don’t generally hunt because lionesses allow them to eat.[6]

Males in coalitions, as well as pairs, cooperate when hunting. Group hunting strategies offer lions several advantages:

  • Group hunting offers fewer risks.
  • It mitigates the lions’ stamina problems.
  • Allows for higher success rates.

Lions’ Social Behavior

Lions are the most sociable feline, and groups are central to their way of life. Within a pride, lions cooperate when hunting, raising cubs, and defending their territory.

The social behavior of lions is complex, with many interesting aspects related to their social life:

  • Females can help rear each other’s cubs.
  • Lions hunt together: females for their pride and males for their coalition.
  • In a pride, females allow males to eat first.
  • Both male and female lions help defend the pride, although some individuals are more focused on defense than others.[7]
  • Lions groom each other and play to strengthen their bonds.

Lions also have a sort of hierarchy within the group. A male regularly dominates a coalition and when a pride hunts, the males and hunters are allowed to eat first.[8][9]


Lions are inherently sociable animals. Most of them live in different types of groups called prides and coalitions. Prides can be as large as 40 individuals, although they generally have 12 to 15 members. Coalitions are smaller groups of 3 to 7 males. Lions cooperate when hunting, raising their young, and defending territory.

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