Sis told me to make time to see lions mate the next time I get to Kenya. I told her I’ve already seen lions mate a few times, in Amboseli and Masaai Mara. So after a few expletives from her about what was wrong with me for not blogging about it, she finally mollified me into writing this post.
Just let me clarify. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’ve seen lions mate. I was lucky enough to see that. Although I assumed it was common place for people who visit Kenya to see lions mate. Isn’t it?
But the sis says it isn’t. There are people who visit Kenya and don’t even see a lion’s tail. And I better put down something for her this minute. So demanding, I tell you!
But I’m going to be a good sis and make her happy, just this one more time.
My third visit to Kenya
Last week was the third time I visited Kenya. I was on an inspection trip to learn more about the different types of accommodation that Kenya has to offer. The others and I had been on the road about 6 days at various parks and reserves, but with no luck spotting any cats until our entry into the Masai Mara National Game Reserve. We had seen a lot of other animals this time, but no cats yet.
Once we entered the Mara from the Sekenani gate, we saw this elegant beauty. With a wing span of about 3 metres, the marabou stork is a magnificent sight like a welcoming sentry at the gate.
A lioness at rest
After about 15 minutes in, we spotted a lioness lazing about in the sun.
Less than 100 feet away from her was a guy in a bulldozer fixing the track after the unseasonal rains that had washed out some of them. But the lioness lay there unperturbed; the noise from the bull dozer not bothering her at all.
Talking about not disturbing the animals, it’s so important to ensure that we only go on ethical game drives in only good reserves. No petting or touching animals, and definitely no chasing them. Read my friend Kathryn’s post on the Ethics of Animal Encounters here.
After watching the lioness for a while, we headed for a review of the Mara Intrepids Camp. Once done, on our way to next camp, we pass another vehicle and our driver guide Daniel has a little chit chat with them.
Daniel tells us there’s a surprise in store for us. There was a spotting.
We all wondered what it was and waited eagerly.
Sighting the mating lions
Daniel drives us just about 5 mins to the East and near a few bushes we see a Lion and lioness lying in the grass. The Lion really looked like a King, with his mane blowing in the wind. Cool dude! Reminded me of that singer. I can’t quite remember the name.
As we stood there watching and clicking away on our cameras and phones, this king of beasts, this Lion stands up, walks over to the lioness, mounts her and starts mating. And about 10 seconds later they were done!
Daniel told us that they had probably been at it for 3 to 4 days as they both looked exhausted and that they do it about every 15 mins during that time for short spurts of less than a minute.
I had seen Lions mating in Amboseli on another trip to Kenya, but this was a much better viewing as they were literally just 20 feet away from our vehicle. Watch the slide show below 🙂
The lioness has some prints on her body that look like she’s a mix of something. We’re not sure what though…
How do lions mate?
We hear more about the lions.
How do lions mate?
The male lion knows when a female is ready to mate by a special smell he receives from a female in estrus. The mating process only lasts for a few days, during which the male and female literally mate, sleep, mate, sleep, without doing anything else. This also renders the lions weak and vulnerable.
When a female is ready to mate she lies on the ground in the mating position with her tail to the side. The male mounts her and is done in about 15 secs. He bites her neck in a defensive gesture and the female snarls back.
Copulation is painful for the female because of the barbed penis of the male lion. The males backward pointing barbs in felines stimulate ovulation in the females.
See how she snarls at him with her teeth bared. This was nature at it’s rawest. Real nature, real action.
Did you know that lions and tigers are in the same Panthera genus, so that it’s easy for them to mate with each other too? If a male lion and a female tiger mate, they give birth to a liger, and if a male tiger and a female lion mate, they give birth to a tigon. And ligers could possibly be the largest animals in the cat family, even larger than lions. Amazing what the intermingling of nature produces. I hope I get to see them one day.
Anyways, I wish I had thought of recording a video instead of clicking a thousand shots. Maybe I’ll do that the next time I go on a Mara expedition!
But now it’s time for a well-deserved rest. Snooze!