National Geographic : 1969 Nov
changed its course, knowing that another lion or family was in the vicinity, and retraced its route for two or three miles before trying a different area. I call this cooperative behavior "mutual avoidance," and believe its purpose is to pro tect the mountain lion as a species. Because they are solitary predators, lions have to de pend on their physical well-being, their agility, to survive; consequently, fighting in defense of their territory, as do some gregarious spe cies such as wolves, is a luxury lions cannot afford. An injured wolf may survive because he is a member of the pack; an injured solitary lion most likely would starve. Our technique of capturing and recaptur ing individual lions, combined with tracking them for hundreds of miles, told us many things about the habits of these great preda- tors. We found that mature females averaged about 100 pounds and males in the neighbor hood of 150. The males varied more in weight; the lightest male we weighed was 130 pounds; the heaviest, 181. Adults Scorn the Social Life We learned that mountain lions are strictly solitary creatures, with social tolerance being exhibited by males and females only during the brief breeding periods, and by females and young during the longer period of juve nile dependency. The big cats, like their small domestic cous ins, are capable of breeding at any season of the year. In central Idaho, however, breeding is limited largely to winter and early spring. A male and female will pair and remain to gether for two weeks or perhaps longer. They 651 ROME(BELOW)BY BILL BROWNING;KODACHROMEBY MAURICEG. HORNOCKER(n N.G.S .