Planning for success: Serengeti lions seek prey accessibility rather than abundance

J. Grant, C. Hopcraft, A. R.E. Sinclair, Craig Packer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

418 Scopus citations


1. We used long-term radio-telemetry data to investigate how Serengeti lions (Panthera leo) distribute themselves with respect to hunting opportunities. Specifically, we investigate whether lions hunt in areas where prey are easy to capture or where prey are locally abundant. 2. We used resource-selection functions (logistic regressions) to measure the location of kills/carcasses with respect to five different habitats: the view-sheds from large rocky outcrops, river confluences, woodland vegetation, erosion embankments and water sources. 3. As expected for a sit-and-wait predator, resting lions spent more time in areas with good cover. On a broad-scale, lions shifted their ranges according to the seasonal movement of prey, but at a finer scale (< 100 m) lions fed in areas with high prey 'catchability' rather than high prey density. Plains lions selected erosion embankments, view-sheds from rocky outcrops, and access to free water. Woodland lions tended to use erosion embankments, and woody vegetation. 4. The results emphasize the importance of fine-scale landscape and habitat features when assessing predator-prey theory and conservation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)559-566
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2005


  • Ambush predator
  • Habitat selection
  • Predator-prey interaction
  • Predator-sensitive foraging
  • Prey abundance
  • Resource selection


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