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hybreed slide show - Animated Animals/Nature





By far the most frequently asked question this site receives is: "In a fight between a lion and a tiger, who would win?"

*In the 1930s the Maharajah of Gwalior carried out an interesting experiment.
He believed that lions had once inhabited the local forests and chose to import three pairs of African Lions as breeding stock.

The selected release area was the Shivpuri-Sheopur forest which covered over 1,000 square-miles. A walled enclosure allowed for acclimatization.

As was typical of the day, live food was provided in the form of buffalos. Baiting of this type is now illegal in India.

In four years within the enclosure the Lions thrived and bred. They were then released into the surrounding area in pairs. Of the original six, one pair were shot as they turned to attacking local livestock; had these lions not been killed it is likely they may have turned man-eater, or been poisoned by the villagers.

The other lions spread out in the forest, but were apparently mauled and killed by the local tigers.

Though the lions were killed there are a lot of holes the story:
The lions were out of their natural habitat.
They had been all but hand fed for four years and must have lost some of their hunting skills during that time.
Wild male lions face competition from challengers on a frequent basis. These males wouldn't have needed to defend pride females within the acclimatization period.
They were released in pairs. Lions hunt as a group and this lack of a pride would have been a significant disadvantage. Males rarely hunt and are not good at this.
We are also only assuming the lions were wild caught and not actually captive bred.
There is little on the tiger mauling claim other than the brief comment recorded here. It seems equally likely a combination of circumstances could have led to the deaths. Perhaps the lions were already in a weakened state when attacked, or perhaps they died and the tigers ate the carcasses afterwards; tigers are opportunistic and will eat carrion.

As a consequence, I have spent a great deal of time researching this and talking with people whose careers studying Carnivora extend back some 25 years. Together we have searched for historically documented evidence from which this article has been drawn.

It should be understood that the question is exceedingly difficult to answer as historic records on this type of event are few and far between. Some conclusions can be drawn from studying the various animals, their conformation and habits. Limited historic film and documentation does exist of lion, tiger, and other predator fights. But comparisons of the modern lion and tiger, which are sometimes vastly different animals from their historic, (often extinct) cousins, must be based almost entirely upon a combination of sensible evaluation and assumption.

The likelihood of an encounter:
It is often stated that lion and tiger habitats overlap at the Gir National Park and Lion Sanctuary in India. The rare Asiatic lion is to be found here in very low numbers (only a few hundred remain), but this is not tiger country. The lion holds it as an exclusive range.

*There has been some suggestion that the tiger forced the retreat of the lion into the Gir Forest area, however history does not support this.

The tiger was in India by 4500 BC; records exist that prove this beyond the shadow of a doubt. There is no evidence dating back this far for the Asiatic lion. It is believed they may once have ranged across Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, and large areas of India, but were hunted nearly to extinction after they started to raid cattle. Later the remnant population was introduced into the Gir Forest. There are no tigers here and probably none with 160 kilometres.

The furtherest the Gir lions have ever been recorded as straying from their forest habitat is 40 kilometres; this was back in 1966 when a group of 21 went on the move. Despite travelling such a distance, they were still nowhere near tiger territory.

Gir Forest is also hotter, drier and more arid than the northeast wet forest areas preferred by the tiger, though it does contain appropriate prey species. This all means that the opportunity for a lion and tiger to meet in the wild is practically non-existent.

What about in captivity? How likely are lion/tiger fights there? Disagreements do happen, the most likely time for this is when introducing new animals to a group, but most places keep the different species apart and generally speaking introductions are so controlled there is little more than a few surface scratches inflicted


There are two films recording early lion and tiger fights, one in captivity and the other in the wild.

*The first documents an event set up to entertain a prince. The fight took place in the pit of a palace compound with the entire encounter being recorded.

The film showed that the tiger was at an immediate disadvantage. Tigers use a throat grip as their primary means of killing and the lion's thick protective mane prevented the tiger gaining a hold on the throat joint. On the other hand, the tiger had no special protection, so was vulnerable to attack.

In this fight, the tiger was killed.

*The second piece of film dates back to the 1930s and is still under investigation.The documentary owner has yet to view more than a few portions of it and until the film can be converted to a more easily viewed format little more progress can be made on reviewing this piece.

As far as can be ascertained, the film was taken during an expedition to capture some tigers in the Gir region of India. Again, the tiger was the loser.

These films back up current expert opinion, including some from Leeds University, regarding the potential result of conflict between these two animals. It is considered that exactly the same outcome would occur given a modern battle between the lion and the tiger.

Korean pit fight film:
Widely rumoured to exist is a piece of film showing a Korean pit fight between a lion and tiger. This site had spoken to many people who had heard of the film, but, until recently, no one who had seen it. Since second-hand information and rumour is of little use for this article the film is not yet considered evidential. The best information available so far is due to exhaustive work on the part of a viewer. He has managed to track down someone who sighted the film three-years-ago and the information below is courtesy of this gentleman. Attempts are still being made to locate the current whereabouts of the film so as to clarify the information.

The tape was North Korean in origin and presented as a propaganda recording designed to show how strong their animal 'symbols' were against those from other 'forces'. The audio was Korean and there were no subtitles. The holder of the tape had obtained it from a South Korean who provided the propaganda explanation. Assuming it is correct, then the tape was probably either smuggled out of North Korea, or captured, then copied.

*Despite extensive rumours to the contrary the film was not about lions and tigers specifically. It covered a wide variety of animals including the mongoose, snakes, wolves, dogs, and finally, a lion and tiger.

The fight was staged in a caged arena and the tiger is said to have injured the lion's hind leg. This disabled the animal enough for the tiger to apply a hold to the neck, shake the lion, and perhaps break the spine. The tiger suffered some claw and bite marks, but had seemingly gained the advantage from having administered the leg injury.

Further information on this film will be posted as it comes to hand. At this stage the information is still to be confirmed and nothing is known regarding details like the relative size of the animals, or the various subspecies

Korean lion and tiger pit fighting:

*There was a great deal of lion and tiger pit fighting held in Korea until 1960. Historic reports say the lion was found very difficult to beat, again due to the head protection afforded by the mane. The film mentioned on the previous page has the tiger as the winner, but this fight would seem to be only one of many that were carried out, and all other reports found, to date, say the lion usually won.

*At this stage the Koreans were using Amur (Siberian) tigers. Being unhappy with the performance of this big cat, and its unwillingness to fight, they extended their search for a tiger which was more vicious.

After trying a number of options they settled for a Bengal from the extreme northern range of the subspecies (the Nepal Valley). These tigers almost matched the Amur subspecies in size and were up to 600 lbs in weight.

Within this Bengal the Koreans are said to have found an almost disturbing ferocity. It is claimed these tigers attacked violently and relentlessly, most often winning in any fight against the lion.

The Koreans also discovered this tendency towards extreme aggressiveness was confined entirely to the tigers of the one area. The great puzzle is why this should be so.
Modern theories suggest the high level of aggression developed after vast numbers of tigers became cut off in a relatively small forest. A dense tiger population in a small area would greatly increase the frequency of territorial confrontation. Competition over the small amount of prey and the available females of breeding age would accelerate the process of natural selection.

Today, as many as 250 tigers are still found in this forest, however there is no current record of a particularly high level of aggression.

The makers of the film Gladiator discovered an interesting thing. Their famous tiger fight scenes had to be extensively computer manipulated after the animal actors simply sat down and licked their paws. They were uninterested in attacking humans, even in the name of fame. Of course, these are well-fed and well cared for animals. But what about genuine gladiatorial events? How did this big cat really fair?

* Despite the final appearance given by the movie, tigers were largely unsuccessful in the gladiatorial area. Lions were more popular as they put on an excellent fight display, whereas tigers were surprisingly reluctant to enter into battle. Placed in with lions, the tigers would often simply retreaT


*The following report comes from the London Ancestor. Its original date of publication was the 5th December, 1830.

The Fight ...

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