Photo: King of the jungle rules the plains

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89 of 1009

Have you ever wondered why a lion is called the king of the jungle when they don't actually live in the jungle? Our wonderful photo of the day, taken by Rollie Rodriguez in Nairobi National Park, Kenya, gives us a good reason to tackle this riddle, which has a pretty simple explanation. Roger Jeffery, from the Department of Sociology and Centre for South Asian Studies, University of Edinburgh, explains:

One reason for the confusion is that "jungle" is derived from the Hindi (and thus also from Sanskrit) words. There are no tropical forests in India, and the definitive text on the derivation of the word (Frances Zimmermann's "Jungle and the Aroma of Meats") makes a good case for saying that "jangala" really meant an open savanna-like terrain, very suitable for the Indian lion. How "jungle" came to be understood in British English as a thick tropical forest with creepers etc. is still somewhat unclear; the Hindi word "jungle" in rural north India is a term still very much in use to describe the fields and the margins of cultivated lands such as common grazing lands.

So there you have it ... blame it on the quirks of language. And regardless, the king of the plains wouldn't be any less regal.

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