The thrill of an African safari is hard to beat. There is a quote by Brian Jackman that perfectly sums up the feeling of being one with nature: “Everything in Africa bites, but the safari bug is worst of all.”
Recently, guests from Eagles Crag Lodge in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, were fortunate enough to witness something spectacular while on a game drive!
Lions may be magnificent mammals, but tend to be somewhat mundane in sightings. Although they are beautiful animals to see in their natural habitat, lions spend about 21 hours a day resting or sleeping as they are nocturnal animals.
Because of this fact, when guests get to witness lions hunting or mating, it is a truly amazing experience and a rarity.
So, when Ranger Morné and guests witnessed the Southern male lion mating with one of the Southern Pride lionesses, they were utterly speechless.
Our Southern male lion is the dominant male on the reserve and is in his prime. Morné explained that he left the lodge for their morning game drive and within the first half an hour found the Southern Pride of lions.
His guests were thrilled to find the lions, let alone experience what came next. Within 10 minutes they mated and gave the audience one of nature’s rarest sightings to experience.
A lioness in estrous exhibits extreme restlessness which includes lying down, jumping up, walking rapidly, rolling and twisting on her back. One would notice the female initiating mating as she approaches the male swaying or dancing in front of him.
She will do this while hitting her tail into his face, often paired with growling. She will lie in front of the male as if she invites him to mount, lifting her back end slightly. This we refer to as the ‘lordosis reflex’ which makes copulation easier.
Lions need to copulate repeatedly to ovulate and conceive, this is called ‘induced ovulation’. Contact terminates quickly after copulation.
Mating occurs throughout the year and a lioness’s gestation period is roughly 110 days. Pride members often give birth synchronously; young are raised communally in what is termed a ‘creche’.
Needless to say, Ranger Morné and guests were in their element when they returned from the game drive and were bursting to tell their tales of their adventures in the bush. This fantastic act of nature was the cherry on top to their memorable stay!