The lion is the king of the jungle, they say, though lions hate the jungle. It would be more fitting to say the lion is the king of the plains. On the plains the lion can see the prey he is hunting down, hide in the long grass, lounge under the remote trees when the hot race for his kingdom is beneath him and he intends to retreat from it in the soothing shade of a protracted, regal nap. In the jungle all sound can be heard as a threat; the rustling in the canopy may be monkeys or jaguars; the shuffling in the rotting soil may be vipers, or army ants. A dozen or more venomous beasts may lie in wait, or merely annoying ones, who care no more for royalty than a ripe fig, and may engage either if they see a bit of sport in the endeavor.
Elephants are not considered kings, though they are far larger, travel in vast herds that, with a single stampede, wipe out prides of lions. And there’s another impractical point: “pride of lions” is nothing of the sort. It is rather a lion and his retinue of lionesses, his hunters. And his brood. Snakes are not considered kings, nor crocodiles, vicious creatures both, and cleverer by far. Yet ever has the lion been described as the absolute monarch of the wild.
No one argues with a cat, you see.