Lion vs Gorilla

Who would win a possible battle between the “lion king” or the mighty Gorilla?

An African lion and gorilla weigh nearly the same during their adult years.

But their lifestyles and behaviors vary remarkably from one another.

Unlike other animal rivalries, this unlikely match doesn’t have a clear result.

Both the gorilla and the lion have their share of special powers.

Lions are widely regarded as “kings of the jungle”.

People universally consider lions as symbols of strength, fierceness, and agility.

They are also the second biggest felines in the world after tigers.

They are social felines and you’ll often see them in groups known as “pride”.

The distinctive silver hairs on the backs of some mountain native gorillas show they are adult males.

Being extremely strong, silverback gorillas mainly reside in jungles that surround African mountainous areas.

To maintain such a large body, silverback gorillas have to eat big portions of food daily and ensure they get all the proper nourishment into their systems.

A Comparison of their Size & Description

Lions are the only feline species that are sexually dimorphic, which means that the appearance of male and female lions is vastly different.

Males are bigger and bulkier than females.

A lion’s body stretches on average from 4.5 to 6.5 feet (1.7 to 2 m), with a 26 to 40 inch tail (0.6 to 1 m), and they weigh 265 to 420 pounds or 120 to 190 kilograms.

Lion cubs bear dark marks on their fur the moment they are born, which gradually fade into subtle spots in their bellies during maturity.

Both lion sexes are robust and bulky felines with circular ears and heads.

However, only adult male lions show a brownish or black mane, which covers the neck and the chest.

Male lions also have special tail tufts, which hide tailbone spines in some instances.

Now, when it comes to the size of silverback gorillas, it’s extra-large.

When they stand up, their height stretches from 5.5 to 5 feet or up to 1.9m and their weight reaches up to 350 pounds or 160 kg.

Perhaps their smallest feature compared to the rest of their head is their ears.

Male gorillas have a big bony tuft on the edge of their backs and skulls to help support their jaws and teeth.

Their bony tuft also gives their skulls a conical form.

Females also have the same bulky tuft but it’s less protruding than in males.

And gorilla’s extremely hairy nature is there for a reason. Their dense and long hair helps protect them at high altitudes.

Typically, silverbacks grow their silver saddle-shaped mark at the age of 12.

Younger males who don’t have any silver saddle are known as “blackbacks”

Their Natural Range and Habitat

African lions are broken down into several subspecies, based on their natural range.

Historically, lions are spotted throughout most of Africa but their current territory has been limited to a few scattered locations in Southern and Central Africa.

Beyond Africa and during ancient times, lions were found from Greece to India.

Humans have gradually wiped out their populations over the ages.

Nowadays, only a small group of Asian lion subspecies is reserved in the Gir Forest National park in W. India.

Lions have a preference for savannah and grassland areas close to water bodies like river streams.

They also tend to hunt in more exposed areas rather than densely planted forests.

Lions are not present near any rainforest habitats.

On the other hand, western or lowland gorillas are found in the tropical forests of Africa from the western lowlands near the Cameroon bay through the Central African Republic, Nigeria, Tropical Guinea, Angola, Congo and perhaps the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Africa’s equatorial second-growth forests allow more light to shed into the forest ground, helping to offer the most suitable habitat for western gorillas.

What do they eat?

Lions are carnivores by nature which means they are meat-eaters.

In their wild habitats, lions usually feast on zebras, deers, giraffes, buffalos, wildebeests and gazelles.

If their primary prey targets are not in sight, they may rarely attack young rhinos, elephants and hippos.

Lions are also considered opportunistic predators that may occasionally prey on rodents, reptiles, and hares.

A feature that adds to their super-predator ability is their robust eyes. Lion’s eyes have a horizontal line of nerve cells that track their prey closely across the regions.

On the contrary, gorillas are for the most part vegetarians and feast on the summits of dense tropical forests.

However, they sometimes eat insects or tiny animals found on the stems and leaves they devour. Crops and rotting wood are also among the food choices of gorillas.

Silverbacks reportedly eat 45 pounds of food daily.

Their Behavior

Lions are mainly nocturnal, moving and hunting during late hours. Like most feline species, lions sleep or rest on average 15-20 hours a day.

During times of rest, lions have plenty of opportunities for socializing. They like to meet and sleep in small groups, rubbing their heads and playing with each other.

Living in a small group also enables lions to hunt their prey together.

The female lions of the group may scatter around their target prey to attack it from different angles.

But, despite their incredible power and flexibility, lions often fail in their killing attempts.

Mountain gorillas are also very social animals who reside in small family groups known as “troops”, guided and protected by a dominant male silverback.

Their families typically consist of around 3-4 sexually fertile females, one or two adolescent gorillas, 3-6 young gorillas, and babies.

Lower-ranking silverbacks may also join a troop and they are usually the younger siblings or adult male sons of the leading gorilla.

A big mountain gorilla troop can surpass 20 gorillas.

Now, going back to our question, who would win the battle: the lion king or the monstrous gorilla?

The gorilla’s large canine teeth are mainly designed not for tearing apart flesh but for intimidation of its opponents–and compared to the fierce teeth of its rival, the male lion, they pale in comparison.

Now, gorillas are renowned for their enormous arm strength and despite not having the claws lions have, gorillas are capable of making small and simple weapons out of plants, rocks and wooden sticks.

In the unlikely event that a lion attempts to attack a silverback head to head, the latter could use his robust throwing motion to inflict a major and possibly deadly strike.

But, contrary to the silverback gorilla, the lion is naturally a super predator.

While their level of intelligence is not the same, the lion demonstrates a body structure that is perfect for hunting.

The lion’s menacing claws can also inflict wounds into the gorilla’s flesh, even if the latter tries to fight against the lion’s jaws.

The lion, despite its hunting powers, often follows a stealth killer technique. Due to its poor stamina, the lion depends highly on a stealthy technique to put down its prey or rival in a single hit.

Ultimately, the odds are in the gorilla’s favor but it depends on the circumstances.

If the lion manages to come close enough to inflict an accurate and deep bite, the fight will be over in seconds.

However, a gorilla is a strong opponent with far more stamina and body strength.

Its stamina and will to fight is more compared to a lion’s and if it manages to grab a solid branch, it can definitely wound its feline rival.

So provided the silverbacks succeed in surviving a lion’s bite and the wounds are only minor, he can use his robust punches and distraction moves to put the lion down.
But there is no guarantees.

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