Watching Lions mate in Maasai Mara, Kenya

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Sis told me to make time to go see lions mate the next time I get to Kenya. I told her I’d 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 commonplace 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.

If you’re in a hurry and just want the recommended safaris, read this!

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 for 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.

A Marabou stork with wide open wings.
Welcome sentry at the Sekenani gate

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.

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A lioness at rest

After about 15 minutes in, we spotted a lioness lazing about in the sun.

Lioness sleeping on grass in Masai Mara.
Lioness at rest in Masai Mara
Lioness sitting on green grass with tail in the air.
Lioness waving tail
Lioness sitting on green grass looking at the camera.
What are you looking at?

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 bulldozer 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.

Lion and lioness resting on green grass.
Lions at rest
Lion and lioness in Kenya.
Spotting lions in Kenyas Maasai Mara National Reserve
Lion guarding while lioness is resting.
Lion and lioness at Masai Mara Africa

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.

Lion with mane blowing in the wind while sitting on green grass.
The King
Lion sitting on green grass with his head turned away.
Blowing in the wind
Lion sitting on green grass.
Hello Lion, Hello Africa.
Lion taking a nap in sun while sitting on green grass.
Love the mane
Kenyan lion taking a nap in the serene weather of Masai Mara.
Kenyan Lion siesta

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 🙂

Pair of lion relaxing on green grass.
Spotted a pair of mating lions
A pair of lions resting in sun.
Siesta in the Sun
Male and female lion sitting on  grass.
Don’t know if they’re really looking at us
Lions mating in the open grassland.
Yeah baby, yeah-lion
Lioness growling with male lon on top of her mating.
Lion bites lioness neck while mating.
Mr. Lion bites Mrs. Lionesss neck
Lion mating in the grassland.
Mating Lions
Lion about to sit and lioness sleeping on the green grass.
I’ll take a break too

This lioness has spots on her body, she’s either very young or has somehow retained her childhood spots, usually, they grow out of it.

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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 its 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.

Lioness yawns while sleeping and lion next to her.
Lioness Yawning
Lioness sleeping on green grass and lion sitting next to her.
Lioness taking a nap
Lion and lioness rest together after mating.
Lion joins her for a snooze

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!

Lion and lioness facing each other while sitting.
Copulation done back to rest
Lion taking a nap.
Time for a well deserved rest

But now it’s time for a well-deserved rest. Snooze!

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Other Travel Posts to Read

Pinterest image of a Kenyan Lion with a groovy mane sitting on green grass.
Pinterest image of Lioness at rest after copulation and male lion sitting next to her.
Lion and lioness in Kenya.

8 thoughts on “Watching Lions mate in Maasai Mara, Kenya”

  1. Excellent post! Most helpful article for us. Thank you so much for your excellent article, recommendations, and tips! Much appreciated!

    • Yes. We were supposed to ask about the prints on the lioness after getting back, but were short of time. She looks like a mix of a leopard and lioness, doesn’t she? I wonder if that occurs.


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