Male lions usually eat first. They rarely give up their fair share of the food, no matter how unjust it may appear. In fact, lionesses and cubs must frequently wait until their patriarch has done eating before they can eat.
If a male lion is not hungry, is severely outnumbered, or has recently taken over the pride, he will allow the rest of his pride to eat.
The first reason is obvious and does occur, although rarely.
In a circumstance where the lionesses are really hungry or simply irritable and outnumber the male 10:1, he may opt to back down; yet, he may also choose to enforce the law.
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A new male, one who has conquered his predecessor but has not yet earned the trust of his lionesses, may struggle to eat first, but will normally display his authority in such scenario.
Otherwise, juvenile males who have not yet left the pride may bow to elder lionesses.
Essentially, it is not in the best interests of the pride for a male lion to go hungry. Males are larger and stronger than females, making them the primary defense against newcomers.
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If a rival male takes over a pride, the established male is exiled, and any nursing cubs are killed by the new male.
Lions and lionesses have distinct roles to play: Lions guard their area and ward off rivals while lionesses hunt, give birth, and nurture the pups. It’s a healthy family dynamic that is usually appreciated.