The lion is distinctive in being the only big cat which lives in extended social groups.
The North African ecosystem is
a relatively low energy system (click here) with little food available for carnivores when compared to African savannah or Indian dry forests. Lions
were known to move above the (temporary) snow line in the Atlas Mountains – an even more harsh environment.
This probably explains the reasons for most sightings of Barbary lions in the 18oos and19oos referring to either single animals, pairs, or pairs with cubs; the larger pride structures associated with East Africa are not encountered, and the type of female-dominated family groups which are commonly encountered in India are not described in documented North African sightings.
Some commentators suggest that the behaviour of the Barbary lion was more similar to the Siberian tiger – relatively solitary. There are certainly many examples of single animals being cornered and shot in isolation.
Black SA, Fellous A, Yamaguchi N, Roberts DL (2013) Examining the Extinction of the Barbary Lion and Its Implications for Felid Conservation. PLoS ONE 8(4): e60174. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060174
Black, S. (2015) Room to move in? http://blogs.kent.ac.uk/barbarylion/2015/04/22/room-to-move-in/