Lion are plentiful in the bigger National Parks but will often tend to stay in the remote parts for long periods at a time. They are the only cats moving in family groups and normally occupy a well defined territory. We were very lucky at Shindzela and come across the same pride of lions a couple of days in a row.
We even got to watch some animal porn! On one of our early morning drives we got to witness the courtship and then mating of two beautiful lions. Felt a bit like intruding on a private moment, but it was amazing to watch! The dominant female has primary mating rights, but the dominant male will mate with any female lioness in the pride. When the female is in season, she demonstrates her readiness by head rubbing and rolling onto her back.
When a lioness is in heat, a male will join her, staying with her constantly. The two lie and chill with the male watching the female quite closely and he will often jump up if she only moves. He walks over for a sniff and if she is ready she gets up and turns her back towards the male.
It is actually over in the blink of an eye, a couple of seconds at most, then it is back to chilling and just sleeping. Although the mating act is less than a minute, the two do it about every 15 to 30 minutes over a period of four to five days. This can amount to hundreds of individual acts of copulation.
The mating behaviour of lions is a painful process for the female. The penis is barbed and its withdrawal hurts the female who may twist around and attack the dismounting male. The pain is necessary for feline mating as it is the shock to her system that induces ovulation and permits fertilization.
Despite mating so often during the 3 – 5 days it is often unsuccessful, even though lions are able to induce ovulation rather than relying on an estrous cycle. Lionesses have a gestation period of three and a half months (about 108 days).
This was my first episode of Lion porn, but not my last.