Five lionesses of Moremi Reserve in Botswana have grown thick mane and they even started to behave like lions.
According to recent observations, at least one of these females often roars like a lion. And even tries to mate with other females. It even killed two cubs, which is characteristic only for the male lions.
A team of biologists monitored these lionesses “butch” in 2014. And have published the first scientific paper on the development of the mane and male behavior of these lionesses.
Of the five lionesses, biologists chose one of which was focused and named her “SaF05”.
It was noticed that three of these females “made moves” on male lions, while “SaF05” feelings guided her towards both male and female lions.
When scientists, led by biologist Jeffrey D. Gilfilan from Sussex University in the UK, examined the data from “SaF05” of the past eight years, they found that she showed such sexual behavior towards three females in seven separate occasions.
According to the report, none of these females initiated such behavior towards her and all attempts to homosexual mating were either ignored or met with aggression.
At this stage no one certainly can not say why lionesses developed male physical characteristics and began to behave like lions. The main hypothesis now is that they have elevated levels of testosterone.
With male lions, testosterone directly affects the development of his mane. Castrated lions lose their ability to produce testosterone, and consequently often lose their mane.
A few years ago, a lioness with the name Emma of the National zoo park in South Africa began to grow a mane. Tests have shown that she produced high levels of testosterone, as a result of problems with the ovaries. After removal of the ovaries, she regained female characteristics.
It is unclear why some of them produce elevated levels of testosterone, unlike the others. But it seems that somehow their development have been disturbed, either during conception or during their formation in the womb.
This hypothesis is supported by the fact that so far all the evidence suggests that these five lionesses are infertile. According to the data of the last eight years show that “SaF05” never became pregnant and never gave birth.
Although this is not good for the survival of the herd where they live, scientists are convinced that they carry extremely rare genetic mutation. And the fact that they are infertile means that there is no chance that this state transfers through these lionesses.
Certainly there are advantages to be a brave lion, because they do not behave like typical lionesses. Instead, they use the best of both worlds to show their neighbors who is the boss – the lion’s way.