Tiger versus lion

Historically, a comparison of the tiger (Panthera tigris) versus the lion (Panthera leo)[3][4] has been a popular topic of discussion by hunters,[5][6] naturalists,[7] artists, and poets, and continues to inspire the popular imagination.[8][9][10][11] In the past, lions and tigers reportedly competed in the wilderness,[12][13] where their ranges overlapped in Eurasia.[3][14] The most common reported circumstance of their meeting is in captivity,[15] either deliberately[9][16] or accidentally.[12][17]

An Asiatic lion and two Bengal tigers[1] in captivity at Bannerghatta National Park, Bangalore, Karnataka India. India is the last country with both lions and tigers in the wild. Historically, the modern lion and tiger co-occupied a vast portion of Eurasia,[2] from India in the east, through northern Iran and Iraq, to the shores of the Black Sea in the west.[3][4]

Behavioral comparisonEdit

Both the lion and the tiger have fearsome reputations in their native areas in relation to prey, sympatric predators, and people. Both may prey on humans, though rates of man-eating tend to be higher for the tiger.[6][18]

General differences in behavior:

  • The lion is usually a social animal, while the tiger is solitary. For this reason, lions often killed tigers in captivity by ganging up on them, whereas tigers tended not to form fighting gangs.[19]
  • Lions roam in prides of up to 30 individuals headed by a mature male or group of related males, until an incumbent male is killed or driven away by a new male leader. The majority of single roaming lions tend to be males preparing for maturation and assimilation with a new or existing pride. While male lions are generally larger and stronger than female lions, it is the close-knit female pride alliance that typically hunts and provides for the pride. By contrast, tigers are often solitary,[19] though they do socialize.[4] During a mating tryst, a tiger and tigress are hostile to other creatures, with the same applying to lions.[20]

More specifically, however, the Asiatic lion has similarities and differences with both its African relative and the tiger. For example, Asiatic lions are social like their African relatives, and females may be promiscuous.[21] However, the structures of the prides of African and Asiatic lions vary,[22] with male Asiatic lions usually associating with females during times of mating,[23][24] similar to tigers,[4][20] and whereas Asiatic lionesses and tigresses may practice promiscuity in order to defend their cubs, African lionesses are believed not to do it for that purpose.[25]

Coexistence in the Eurasian wildernessEdit

A Caspian tiger killed in northern Iran, early 1940s
An old photograph of men with a chained lion in Iran, by Antoin Sevruguin, ca. 1880[26]

Currently, India is the only country confirmed to have both wild lions and tigers, specifically Asiatic lions and Bengal tigers.[4][27][28] Though they do not share the same territory, they did in the past,[12][29][20][30] and there is a project mentioned below that could lead to their meeting in the wild.[31][32]

Before the end of the 20th century, Asiatic lions[33][34] and Caspian tigers[35][36] had occurred in other Asian[2] or Eurasian nations, including Iran.[4][14][28][20] As such, there is a word for 'Lion',[3][4][14][34] which can also mean 'Tiger',[20][37] and is used in Iran, South Asia and other areas, that is 'Sher' or 'Shir' (Persian: شیر‎),[38] and its significance is discussed below. Not only did Heptner and Sludskiy had talk about the lion and tiger both occurring in places like Iran, Anatolia and Transcaucasia, they also mentioned that the ranges of the lion and tiger often overlapped.[3]

According to Colin Tudge (2011), given that both cats hunt large herbivores, it is likely that they had been in competition in Asia. Despite their social nature, lions might have competed with tigers one-against-one, as they would with each other.[2] Apart from the possibility of competition, there are legends of Asiatic lions and tigers breeding to produce hybrid offspring, which would be ligers or tigons.[39][40][41][42][43] From the fossil record, besides genetics,[4][36][44] it would appear that the modern lion and tiger were present in Eurasia since the Pleistocene, when now-extinct relatives also existed there.[3][33][35] Additionally, in the days before Indian Independence, the Maharaja of Gwalior introduced African lions into his area, which is a habitat for Bengal tigers.[45]

The possibility of conflict between lions and tigers had been raised in relation to India's Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project, which was meant to introduce the Gir Forest's lions to another reserve which is considered to be within the former range of the lion, that is Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh,[31] before December 2017.[46][47] Kuno was reported to contain some tigers that came from Ranthambore Park, including one called 'T-38'.[12][32] Concerns were raised that the co-presence of lions and tigers would "trigger frequent clashes".[48] At the same, the American biologist Craig Packer and his students at the University of Minnesota considered that a group of lions (two to three males) would have a clear advantage over a tiger and a pack or lionesses (two to four females) would have a similar advantage over a tigress, despite the general advantage of the latter in weight or height. Therefore, Packer is of the opinion that for Asiatic lions to survive in an area with Bengal tigers, the lions would have to be moved there as intact groups rather than as individuals.[12] Although the habitats of Indian lions and tigers are similar means that they both live in conditions that favor solitary hunters of prey,[49] these lions are social like their African relatives,[22] and may form fighting groups, whereas tigers are usually solitary.[12]

Reginald Innes Pocock (1939) mentioned that some people had the opinion that the tiger played a role in the near-extinction of the Indian lion, but he dismissed this view as 'fanciful'. According to him, there was evidence that tigers inhabited the Indian Subcontinent before lions. The tigers likely entered Northern India from the eastern end of the Himalayas, through Burma, and started spreading throughout the area, before the lions likely entered Northern India from Balochistan or Persia, and spread to places like the Bengal and the Nerbudda River. Because of that, before the presence of man could limit the spread of lions, tigers reached parts of India that lions did not reach. However, the presence of tigers throughout India did not stop the spread of lions there, in the first place, so Pocock said that it is unlikely that Bengal tigers played a role, significant or subordinate, in the near-extinction of the Indian lion, rather, that man was responsible for it,[20] as was the case with the decline in tigers' numbers.[3][4][35][20][30] As such, Pocock thought that it was unlikely that serious competition between them regularly occurred, and that even if Indian lions and tigers met, the chance that they would fight for survival was as good as the chance that they would choose to avoid each other, and that their chances of success, if they were to clash, were as good as each other's.[20]

Observed fightsEdit

In the circuses of Ancient Rome, exotic beasts were commonly pitted against each other,[16] including Barbary lions[4][50][51] and tigers.[52] A mosaic in the House of the Faun in Pompeii shows a fight between a lion and a tiger.[53] There are different accounts of which of these animals gained the victory. Although lions and tigers can be kept together in harmony in captivity,[54] fatal conflicts have also been recorded.[9][55][56][57]

In addition to historical recordings, clashes between lions and tigers were reported or even caught on camera[58] in the 19th and 20th centuries. It was not always clear which species regularly beat the other, according to Doctor Packer (2015).[12][13]

In captivityEdit

  • In July 1808, Sylvanus Urban said that Mr. Bolton had a friend who claimed to have seen a fight between the lion and tiger at a circus in Verona. Though the tiger had attacked first, it yielded to the stronger lion.[59]
  • In 1830, a tiger attacked a lion at a menagerie in Turin, Rome. Despite having attacked first, the lion got it on its back, and used its jaws to hold the tiger's throat. The tiger died after that.[60]
  • Clark (1838) said that a British officer, who resided many years at Sierra Leone, saw many fights between lions and tigers, and that the tiger 'universally' won.[29][a]
  • A newspaper Harper's Weekly in 1859, mentioning the same 10-minute fight in London[61][62] where a tiger named 'Gunga', who had previously belonged to the King of Oude, killed nearly 30 lions and after its arrival in England, made the keepers spectators to a fight where a lion was killed in 10 minutes.[63] A 1857 London newspaper talking about the same incident reported the lion was a "very fine lion, six or seven years old".[64] One source stated the lion was in confinement (captivity) for three years, implying the lion would be three years old at a minimum.[65] A newspaper talks about Gunga, whose name was also "Nina Shahib" and who, before the fight took place with the lion in London, had attacked its keeper, after which the keeper severely injured the tiger with a crowbar, blinding him in one eye, meaning the tiger would have been blind fighting the lion. The two animals were found fighting each other, in which the keepers made fruitless efforts to part the two animals. Towards the end of the fight, the lion gained a brief advantage, at which point the tiger, while on his back, with swift strikes and using his back legs, tore open the lion's stomach. The lion died after that. The tiger "Nina Shahib" was thought to have been mortally injured. However, the tiger did recover and became one of the biggest attractions of the establishment.[66]
  • In 1882, a fight started in a menagerie and the tiger fixed his fangs into the lion's throat with blood gushing out, killing the lion.[67]
  • According to the Gettysburg Compiler and The Baltimore Sun (1899), towards the end of the 19th century in India, the Gaekwad of Baroda, that is Sayajirao III,[68][69] arranged a fight in an amphitheater, between a Barbary lion called 'Atlas', from the Atlas Mountains between Algeria and Morocco, and a man-eating Bengal tiger from the Indian region of Shimla, both large and hungry (with their diets reduced before the fight), before an audience of thousands, instead of between an Indian lion and the tiger, as Indian lions were believed to be no match for Bengal tigers. The tiger was more than 10 feet (3.0 metres) long, over 4 feet (120 centimetres) feet at the shoulder, had strong shoulders and long teeth and claws, and was agile. The lion looked taller at the head than the tiger, and had a large mane, legs and paws. The tiger was seen as "the personification of graceful strength and supple energy," whereas the lion was seen as the "embodiment of massive power and adamantine muscle".[57] In the fight, both cats sustained injuries, and although the tiger sometimes retreated from Atlas, it would come back to fight it, and in the end, managed to scratch Atlas to death, though Atlas pushed it off in one final move before dying. The Gaekwad agreed to pay 37,000 rupees, accepted that the tiger was the "King of the Cat Family," decreed that Atlas' body be given a Royal burial, and that the tiger should have a "cage of honour" in the menagerie of Baroda, and decided to prepare the tiger for a battle with a Sierran grizzly bear weighing more than 1,500 lb (680 kilograms). The battle was to happen after the tiger recovered from its wounds.[9][57]
  • Terrifying scene at a Menagerie in Florence (1903) ~ Whilst a tamer was engaged in his performance in the lions' den, one of the animals managed to break through the door into a neighbouring cage, in which was a tiger. A fierce fight ensued between the beasts, the tiger finally succumbing (dying) to ghastly wounds in the neck. The lion also was badly bitten.[70] In the meantime, the visitors had fled panic-stricken, and the terrified tamer had disappeared from the show.[71][72]
  • At the Coney Island animal show in 1909, a performing lion attacked a chained tiger by leaping through the air, landing on the tiger's back. Though hampered by the heavy neck chain fastened to the iron bars of the arena, the tiger was more than a match for the lion and mangled it to death.[73]
  • In 1911, Frank Bostock gave an account of a lion killing a tiger.[74]
  • In May 1914, at New York's Bronx Zoo, the barrier between the cages of Rajah, an eight-year-old Bengal tiger, and Huerte, a Nubian lion which was two[75][76] or three years old and had been sick for some time, got opened in an "unaccountable manner". For the first few minutes, the more agile Huerte appeared to be winning, but when it aimed for its injured opponent's neck, about an hour into the fight, Rajah aimed for its nape. Not only did Rajah manage to bite Huerte's nape, but it also broke Huerte's back, thus slaughtering it.[77][78]
  • In 1934, a fully grown African lion killed a mature Bengal tiger a short time after these circus animals were unloaded from the train and before trainers could separate them.[17]
  • Bert Nelson (1938) said that in Chicago, when 20 lions and tigers were mixed together for an act at a circus, a fight occurred, lasting for about 10 minutes. No fatalities were mentioned, but Nelson said that order was 'restored' when the tigers used escape doors to flee.[79]
  • At the South Perth Zoo in 1949, in a three-minute fight between a lion and a tiger, the lion killed the tiger. The fight occurred when the tiger put his head through a connecting slide. The lion caught the tiger by the throat, and, dragging it through the opening, killed it before the keepers arrived.[80]
  • An Indian prince organised a filmed fight in a deep pit in the compound of his palace. The lion had killed the tiger, according to Kailash Sankhala (1978).[49]
  • In September 2010, a Bengal tiger at the Ankara Zoo passed through a gap, between its cage and that of a lion, and killed it with a single paw swipe. "The tiger severed the lion's jugular vein in a single stroke with its paw, leaving the animal dying in a pool of blood," officials said. However, despite being reported in local news at the time, the incident was reported in international media only in March 2011.[81][82]

Clyde BeattyEdit

A tigress running out of Beatty's circus chute into a cage occupied by a woman with a stick.

The figure of Clyde Beatty's 50 tigers killed by lions[83][84] includes the following:

  • In 1934, "Pasha", a female tiger, attacked Clyde Beatty, only to have "Nero" the male lion attack the tigress and save Beatty's life in an ensuing 25-minute fight.[85][86]
  • In 1933, Beatty said that 16 tigers were killed because lions fight in gangs and tigers fight alone.[87]
  • Up to 1933 in his career Beatty stated, "I have had many lion-tiger battles in my arena, but they have always been gang fights." He continued further, mentioning a tigress named "Nellie" who was killed in a fight involving her and another tiger against eight lions, and another fight between 17 lions and 12 tigers, in which three tigers were killed. Beatty continued in the interview: "However, these fights prove nothing, for lions help each other in a fight, while a tiger picks an opponent in one of these free-for-all battles and fights it out with that animal, who usually gets help from one of his lion buddies".[88]
  • Beatty starred in the 1933 film The Big Cage in which fights between his lions and tigers were both done. The first fight was between Sultan the lion and Tommy the tiger, in which the lion killed the tiger.[89] The second tiger that was killed by a lion was Bobby, which fought Caesar the lion.[90] On page 33, Beatty states that he threw ammonia into Bobby's face, because they wanted to stir the fight up, stating that it was an old animal trainer trick "seldom [used] because of the obvious discomfort it causes the animals", at the end of the page saying that "Bobby, [was] pawing at his nose as though trying to get the fumes out of it", showing that it interfered with the fight, but later on, Beatty states that Bobby continued fighting, lunging at Caesar four more times, though after Caesar made a maneuver to avoid Bobby's fourth strike, Caesar managed to seize Bobby by the neck and kill it.
  • In 1936, it is reported that Beatty recalled an event in his circus where a lion named "Boss Tweed" died after being injured in a fight with three tigers which it reportedly killed, after they ran into the chute where it was.[91] The newspaper stated that Beatty recalled that three tigers and one male lion fought in the circus chute in which the animals enter and leave the arena.[92]
  • In 1937, the Chicago Tribune reporter asked Beatty about one-on-one fights; he then stated he did not stage many of those as it was too expensive...but then says he had had plenty of such fights happen accidentally, and usually before he could stop it, one of the cats was dead. He went on to say that since 1927, 25 tigers were killed by lions, and no lions were killed by tigers.[93] In another article in 1937, Beatty stated how the tiger started off faster, but when its flurry subsided, the lion mopped up, never leaving until its antagonist was dead.[94]
  • Sehka, a three-year-old Bengal tigress in Beatty's circus "died of wounds suffered when she was attacked by Memphis, a lion in the act".[95]
  • In 1940, Beatty talked about a case saying that while a tiger was performing, Nero the lion jumped from his pedestal, hit the tiger with a crash, stunning the big cat and sunk his teeth into the tiger's back.[96] Evidently the fight was unfair, as it was an ambush.
  • As Beatty stated in his book, Princess the tigress was dying in a "brief encounter with the maned enemy [male lion]".[97]
  • Beatty mentioned a case where Empress the tigress was killed by Detroit the lion.[98]
  • In Beatty's book, he talked about a case where "Sleika", a female tiger, was severely injured in a fight with Detroit the lion, had a broken back and died two days later.[99]
  • Beatty stated that Puna, a male tiger who was known for being very friendly and even going up to his "natural enemies" [male lions] and be affectionate towards them, who was then killed in one of his "good will" moments by a lion.[100]
  • A tiger by the name of "Poona" was killed by two lions in a "two-against-one battle".[101]
  • In 1951, Prince the lion killed two tigresses, Sheba and Rosie.[102][103]
  • In 1952, Juno the male lion reportedly killed 13 tigers and five lions.[104][105] It is unclear if Juno killed these animals directly or if he was simply part of the killing (such as several lions killing a tiger) and Beatty counted it. A newspaper from the beginning of 1952 stated that Juno was involved in a fight with six other lions, in which four of the lions "bore bloody wounds from the battle". It also stated that Juno ambushed another lion by jumping on it from behind.[106] Juno was said to be one of the largest and finest specimens of Barbary lions in captivity.[107]
  • In 1954, a tiger was killed in a melee while Beatty was trying to separate "two ferocious fellows".[108] It is unclear if the tiger was killed fighting a male lion or not, as it does not clarify the animals that were in the fight.
  • In 1955, France the lion reportedly killed two tigers in Beatty's circus.[109] There is no information given about the fights or on the tigers.
  • In 1960, Beatty had a tiger named "Sabre" who killed two lions.[110] In the mid-1930s, Beatty took lionesses out of the act, meaning the lions could have been males.[111]

In the wildernessEdit

A Mughal painting of a Dervish with a lion and tiger in India
  • Herne (1855) mentioned that in the Indian jungle between the village of Elaw, city of Baroche, and Gulf of Cambay, north of the city of Surat and its Ghauts, about 6 or 7 mi (9.7 or 11.3 km) from the village, he and his party, which included locals, heard a tiger's roar. Pursuing it, they caught a glimpse of it, but by that time, the tiger had attacked a local. It disappeared with the victim, and after pursuing it for about 50 yd (46 m), they heard the roar of a lion, and besides it, sounds which suggested that it was in a struggle with the tiger, such as growls. The party not only managed to see the lion and tiger rolling about in their battle, after going through bushes, but also the man who fell victim to the tiger. The author termed both the lion and tiger as "tyrants of the forest," given that they would attack weaker creatures. The tiger was about the same size as the lion, but more agile. As for the lion, it used greater strength, and its mane, which was somewhat deeper than those of its bigger African cousins, could protect its head from the tiger's claws, though not other parts of its body, such as the back. They were as determined and brave as each other, but the lion endured. It caught the tiger's throat, turned it on its back, and killed it by clawing its abdomen open. The lion was thus hailed as the "King of Beasts". Otherwise, the fight had been harsh for both beasts, to the extent that the author felt that it would avenge their victims.[112]
  • The Sun (New York) reported that in a depopulated Indian village at the bank of a creek connected to the Cauvery River, about 30 mi (48 km) north-west of Bangalore, a hunter injured by a venomous creature saw a tiger on his left-hand side, and a lion on his right-hand side. The tiger was a "rousing big fellow, who had seen 15 years of his life," and had muscular limbs. The male lion was "medium-sized". Both of them stalked him, but they did not notice each other at first, as they were separated by a wall that was about 4 ft (120 cm) tall, and their focus was on the witness. When they got closer to him, the tiger scented the lion, and behaved like an angry cat, which included making a noise that startled the latter. The lion showed its teeth in response, and after reaching the end of the wall, roared at its foe. After the lion's head showed around the wall, the crouching tiger pounced on it, and rolled over with it. Tigers often kill victims by biting their throats, and keeping their hold on them for as long as necessary,[113] but that was not the case with this struggle. Despite different descriptions of their sizes by the narrator, and that the tiger was more agile than the lion, the tiger's neck was vulnerable to a bite by the lion, and for reasons like these, it was difficult for either cat to defeat the other, overall. After they temporarily retreated from each other, the hunter could see that they were both injured. Still, they were determined to destroy each other. The lion and tiger respectively roared and snarled. The narrator suspected that their hatred for each other may have been because both had been hunting him at the same time, therefore, their respective presences interfered with each other's hunt for him. The tiger pounced on the lion's back, rolling over or falling with it again, and struggling to its feet like it. The lion seemed helpless as the tiger held onto its fore shoulder, before making a move in which it managed to catch the tiger's neck. Now the tiger seemed helpless, before making a move to use its hind claws to force the lion to release its hold on it. Though the tiger was the aggressor this time, their struggle became more like that of dogs unable to beat each other. They bled from nose to tail as they moved away from the witness, towards the creek. They fell into the water, which was about 2 ft (61 cm) deep, and this stopped the fight. They retreated from each other, limping into the forest.[b]
  • Rivalry between the Asiatic lion and "Siberian tiger"[c] is mentioned in Hamilton M. Wright's work in The San Francisco Call (1911).[118]


Favoring the tigerEdit

  • Alex Kerr, an animal trainer who has worked with both lions and tigers, stated in his book that tigers will nearly always win in a fight with a lion and will prove the stronger fighter.[121]
  • John Varty, owner of the Londolozi Reserve in South Africa, said, "People always ask me which one is bigger? If a tiger and a lion had a fight, which one would win? Well, I've seen tigers crunch up a full-grown leopard tortoise like it was nothing. And lions try, but they just don't get it right. If there's a fight, the tiger will win, every time."[122]
  • The animal rescue organization Big Cat Rescue of Tampa, Florida answered, "While it would depend on the size, age, and aggressiveness of the specific animals involved, generally tigers have a significant advantage."[123]
  • The conservation charity Save China's Tigers stated "Recent research indicates that the tiger is indeed stronger than the lion in terms of physical strength. Lions hunt in prides, so it would be in a group and the tiger as a solitary creature so it would be on its own. A tiger is generally physically larger than a lion. Most experts would favor a Siberian and Bengal tiger over an African lion."[124]
  • John Smith Clarke, a British lion tamer, said, in a lecture on the fight between a tiger and a lion given to the Glasgow Zoological Society, while showing the actual fight on the screen, "in 100 cases out of 100 the tiger would always beat the lion. It was far more agile, it was not so clumsy in its movements, it was equally strong, it was equally armed, but it fought in a different way. The tiger very often fought rolling on its back and held the lion in its grip until it defeated him."[125]
  • Craig Saffoe, a biologist and the curator of great cats at the National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C., said that the outcome of a given fight totally depended on the individuals, with their fighting style, physiology and history, but that he would bet on the tiger winning. He also reckoned that the big cats ranked, from higher to lower, with tigers, jaguars and lions on top, and then cougars, snow leopards, leopards, and cheetahs. At the same time, he said that the most interesting "match-up would be a good size Bengal tiger and a good-size male jaguar," because they had roughly the same speed, temperament, strength and size and strength, in his opinion.[126]

Favoring the lionEdit

  • Clyde Beatty, the animal trainer and performer who owned several tigers, lions, hyenas, and other exotic animals, believed that in nine out of 10 times, "a full-grown lion would whip a full-grown tiger".[55]
  • Dave Hoover, the animal trainer for Clyde Beatty-Cole Brothers Circus, mentions that he lost many tigers to male lions: "I have to keep the male lions from killing each other. I have to keep them from killing the tigers [...]. I have lost tigers."[127] Although Dave Hoover had his lions gang up on his tigers, "Two lions killed one of his tigers during training in Ojus, Fla., in 1966",[128] in another newspaper he states he as trouble "keeping the lion from attacking the lone tiger".[129]
  • Renowned naturalist and conservationist of India, Kailash Sankhala wrote in his book Tiger that the tiger would be unable to get close to lion's vital joints because of his thick mane, and that the tiger would be vulnerable to the lion. He mentioned that once an Indian prince organized a fight in which the lion killed the tiger, and opined that "a tiger is no match for even single lion of equal strength".[49]
  • Trainer Bert Nelson, who witnessed a struggle between lions and tigers, said that a tiger would surrender 'sooner' than a lion.[79]
  • Animal Planet’s big cat expert Dave Salmoni [130] is a Canadian animal trainer, entertainer and television producer. In an interview he said that an African Lion would have the edge in a fight against the Siberian Tiger despite having a 45 to 68 kg (100 to 150 lb) weight disadvantage. At 0:08 he said: “The Siberian Tigers have got a 100 to 150 pounds on a big male lion and usually that size should mean the tiger is going to win, but I don’t think that is the case. You know what, a male lion, their only job is to be a good fighter, if they’re not a good hunter they’ll still eat from the girls. Their only skill in a pride is to fight, they’re more aggressive. They like to fight more, they are more practiced at it, so i’d have to give it in a general sense to the lion” [131]


  • Carl Hagenbeck, a trainer from Hamburg, said that the lion and tiger were alike in "good temper and reliability". He cited the example of a lion being trained for a month to do tricks, and of a tiger taking five weeks to do so.[132]

Arts and literatureEdit


Battles between the two were painted in the 18th and 19th centuries by Eugène Delacroix, George Stubbs[133] and James Ward. James Ward's paintings portrayed lion victories in accordance with the lion's symbolic value in Britain, and have been described as less realistic than Stubbs.[133]

The British Seringapatam medal shows a lion defeating a tiger in battle; an Arabic language banner on the medal displays the words Asad Allāh al-Ghālib (Arabic: أَسَد الله الْغَالِب‎, "Lion of God the Conqueror"). The medal commemorated the British victory at the 1799 Battle of Seringapatam (in the town now known as Srirangapatna) over Tipu Sultan — who used tigers as emblems, as opposed to the British emblematic use of lions.[134]

The Hindu goddess Durga depicted with both the lion and the tiger:


A 1739 advertisement by Charles Benjamin Incledon featuring feliforms: the Mesopotamian lion from the vicinity of Bassorah, Cape lion, tiger from the East Indies, panther from Buenos Aires, Hyaena hyaena from West Africa, and leopard from Turkey, besides a "Man tyger" from Africa. Note that the lion comes first in the list, and that it is referred to as the "Magnanimous King of Beaʃt" (sic).

18th-century naturalists and authors compared the species' characters, generally in favor of the lion.[135] Oliver Goldsmith ranked the lion first among carnivorous mammals, followed by the tiger, which in his view "seems to partake of all the noxious qualities of the lion, without sharing any of his good ones. To pride, courage and strength, the lion joins greatness, clemency and generosity; but the tiger is fierce without provocation, and cruel without necessity."[136] Charles Knight, writing in The English Cyclopaedia, disparaged the opinions of naturalists Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon and Thomas Pennant in this context, stating "the general herd of authors who eulogise the 'courage, greatness, clemency and generosity' of the lion, contrasting it with the unprovoked ferocity, unnecessary cruelty and poltroonery of the tiger, becomes ridiculous, though led by such names as Buffon and Pennant."[135]

In the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Narada told Srinjaya that tigers were fiercer and more ruthless than lions.[138] This is in contrast with other literature from ancient India, which prefers the lion to the tiger. For example, Vedic literature depicted the lion, rather than the tiger, as the "king of the forest".[139]

The lion and tiger rival each other in Iranian literature.[140] For example, Humphreys and Kahrom, in their 1999 book Lion and Gazelle: The Mammals and Birds of Iran, treated them as the "two greatest and most beautiful" of Iranian carnivores, albeit being extinct there. As with the lion,[3] the tiger's Persian name was used for people and places.[14]


The term "tiger economy" has been applied to Asian countries that have undergone rapid economic growth, and the term "lion economy" to their African counterparts. The two sides, nicknamed "Asian tigers" and "African lions", have also been compared.[141][142]


In Paalai, a 2011 Tamil film, there is dialogue about the characteristics of the tiger and lion. It concludes that the tiger is superior. In the film, the tiger is the symbol and flag of the native Tamil tribal people and the lion is the symbol and flag of non-Tamil Singhal (literally meaning 'Leonine') people.[143]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ As a West African nation, Sierra Leone would have had indigenous lions, but not tigers.[3][57]
  2. ^ As reported by St. Landry Democrat (1887),[114] The Eaton Democrat (1887),[115] The Iola Register (1887),[116] The Milan Exchange (1887),[117] and The Sydney Mail (1889),[13] in chronological order.
  3. ^ Though this term was used,[118] genetic tests showed that the Siberian tiger was closely related to the Caspian tiger,[119][120] which also inhabited the former Soviet Union (where Siberia is located), and whose range would have overlapped with that of the lion in places like the Caucasus.[3]


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Further readingEdit

External linksEdit