Some photos of mating lions on the 14th of April 2016. Mating lions are fast becoming a regular item during our wildlife safari drives as the females of Noengu Mafazi’s pride (River pride) and Pride of 6 (Impalabos pride) are getting more familiar with the Mohlabetsi male coalition. Lionesses go through what we call a fake estrous whereupon they will mate with new territorial males without conceiving while giving them time (6-12 months) to assess the strength and durability of the coalition. It takes a lot of energy and effort to produce and raise cubs only for them to be killed when the pride gets taken over by strange males. I hope that the Mohlabetsi coalition has passed the test and am looking forward to some small cubs.
Mating is a turbulent affair. The male’s penis is barbed and would hurt the female during retraction causing a hasty retreat for the male as the lioness would often lash out in anger. This stimulation is required to start ovulation. Humans produce an egg every 28 days which would be discarded along with the lining of the uterus if not fertilized. Lions cannot afford to waste that much energy and would need this extra stimulation to produce an egg. This together with lions’ notorious low sperm count necessitates frequent mating activity.
They will mate approximately every 20 minutes for a period lasting up to 5 days which can add up to 250 times over the period. This is great for photographers as it provides ample opportunity for photographs. It is surprisingly difficult to get good photos of mating lions as the lioness would often get up and move off before mating often leaving a bush in the way or they might otherwise end up facing in the wrong direction. Planning by positioning the wildlife safari vehicle in the right place unfortunately does not work in this case.