Lions on honeymoon

Pamushana | June 2019

Recently, I was enjoying a game drive with my guests through an area called Banyini (loosely translating to ‘open grassland’). Most water sources are drying up as we are in the dry season, with the bigger water systems holding water longer, such as the Banyini Pan. As a result most animals will frequent these points to hydrate and, with that, so will the predators lurk while looking for opportunities to come to them. Naturally this is a great place for us to explore, looking for the animals and the action…

On this occasion, we came around a corner, near a place we refer to as the Termite Mound and as luck would have it, there at the water
were two lions walking westwards, ever so slowly. It was an adult lioness and an adult lion. I very quickly saw that the female was walking
in front and the male close behind her, almost as if he didn’t want her any further than a whisker’s distance away from him. This only meant one thing – they were a mating pair, a honeymoon couple. My suspicions were confirmed within seconds of me telling my guests to get their cameras ready for action shots – a flick of the female’s tail in the upward position and her crouching down was all the big dominant male needed for his cue.

We were situated in the perfect position, the male mounted the female and mating began. Mating lions are always a good sighting for both onlookers and photographers as it’s filled with great audio sounds, growls, snarls and outbursts of roars, along with action like teeth-baring and swatting each other. The beauty about this scene, is depending on how long the mating pair has been active, it’s not unusual to get mating episodes after the cats have rested for about 10 to 20 minutes. So, if one missed the action shots, all one needs to do is be patient and it will happen again.

Between mating episodes, the cats would spend their time resting or cleaning themselves by licking their bodies with their rough tongues, more or less like our domestic cats do. I must admit that both cats were looking absolutely beautiful and in their prime as not only were they clean, they were plump and healthy and with all those hormones floating around, looking at their absolute best.

During mating, the honeymooners tend to separate away from the main pride and tend to not pursue much in the way of hunting, however during the many days of mating, around the clock at regular short intervals, the cats burn a lot of energy and become very
hungry, so it’s always a great idea to keep tabs on them as one could get lucky and find them hunting at this point or even making a kill.

Here the male lion goes to great lengths to look his best… cleaning his paws, his mane and licking his ‘wrists’ to then wash his face.