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March 2011

Canon Ambassador, lion expert and TV presenter Jonathan Scott investigates the reasons why lions are the only wild cats to live in family groups in a major two-part TV wildlife documentary that will be screened on BBC 2 at 10pm (CET) on 23 and 30 March 2011.

The programmes study the social behaviour of lions and this is done with the help of probably the most famous lion pride in the world – the Marsh Pride of the Masai Mara in East Africa – which Jonathan Scott has been studying for several decades.

Jonathan Scott told CPN: “The series talks about all the conservation issues as well as profiling the Marsh Pride, who I have been following for over 30 years now.” In fact, Jonathan Scott co-authored the 1982 book ‘The Marsh Lions: The Story of an African Pride’ with Brian Jackman.

© Jonathan & Angela Scott

Canon Ambassador Jonathan Scott has studied lions for over 30 years.

Jonathan Scott's intimate knowledge of the massive Marsh Pride, and their various sub-groups, helps him to explore the possible reasons for the lion's social lifestyle. Scott revealed: "I have just been in the [Masai] Mara and the Marsh Pride continues to lose lions due to conflict with pastoralists – they are a boundary pride."

'The Truth About Lions' series reveals the latest theories on the social habits of lions and the intricacies of their behaviour. With the help of a team of scientists Jonathan Scott tracked individual lions over the course of a year, monitoring the way they behaved and interacted, to present an up-close explanation of the workings of the pride.

The two 'The Truth About Lions' programmes were filmed for BBC 2 last year and are both one-hour long. The series looks at how lion behaviour changes from the tough, dry season to the relative plenty of the wet season. Episode one concentrates on why lions live in family groups, whilst episode two looks at how lions may actually be under greater threat that many people realise.

While there are some apparent benefits to living in prides, from co-operative hunting to raising cubs, none appears to be a strong enough reason to evolve social living. Now, after 30 years of intensive study, the Serengeti Lion Project, lead by Professor Craig Packer, may have finally found the answer and it could have direct consequences for the survival of the lion as a species. The findings are revealed in the two 'The Truth About Lions' TV programmes.

Jonathan Scott added: "[This is] timely as many will, I am sure, be aware of the petition that has been launched by Born Free Foundation and others to have the African Lion listed as an Endangered Species by CITES. The contentious issue of trophy hunting is in the mix as always."

Jonathan Scott has presented the BBC's popular 'Big Cat Diaries' series, about the lives of the Masai Mara's big cat species, since 1996 and is a former Wildlife Photographer of the Year.