The difference between a Territory and a Home Range.


A territory is an area of land that is actively defended against animals of the same species or against animals of the same species and gender. For example lions will defend their prides territory against other lion prides, and especially against other male lions. Leopards on the other hand will defend their territory against other leopards of the same gender, males against males, and females against females.

Territories are usually marked with urine, rubbing or scratching on trees/vegetation, vocal calls, or dropping/dung middens.

Why do animals have territories?

Most animals have territories for two main reasons. To have a secure food and water source, and for the mating rights with the females within the territory.

Territories are more common among predators as well as male animals.

Examples of animals which have territories are lions, leopards, white rhino bulls, hippo bulls, and blue wildebeest bulls.

Home Range

A home range is an area of land where animals live which is not actively defended, and animals of the same species move around freely. Home ranges are also usually much larger than a territory.

Home ranges are common among general plains game.

These animals include zebra, elephant, buffalo, giraffe, and antelope species.

Some species of animals may have territories as well as home ranges, for example hippo, white rhino, and blue wildebeest males actively defend a territory against other bulls of the same species where the females live in home ranges. Female cheetah are also fairly territorial where the male cheetah have much larger home ranges, however males within different coalitions may be confrontational.

The size of territories as well as home ranges depends mostly on food and water availability as well as the animal density in that particular area. Leopards with in the Kruger National Park have much smaller territories then leopards found in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park, this is because there is more water, and food sources readily available in the Kruger National Park.

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