Voyeurism on the Masai Mara
An optimist is someone who gets treed by a lion but enjoys the scenery.” – Walter Winchell
(Warning: graphic animal porn around the next bend)
That gang is full of talk this morning about the lions’ roaring so close to camp during the night. I slept right through it. Nonetheless, my mind is on lions this afternoon as we head out at 3:15 for our late safari drive.
|A wattled plover.|
Dennis takes us far from camp, out to where the giraffes glide among the trees….
.... an eland takes a break in the shade of a bush....
…where a massive herd of Cape buffalo graze…..
|These red-billed oxpeckers have a mutual admiration society with Cape buffalo and other animals. The birds live exclusively on food they find on them, such as ticks, other insects, mucus, etc.|
…and where a lion pride dwells high atop a rocky hill. A lioness watches us from a vantage point, so unconcerned that she yawns a couple times.
Farther still we go and then we see several safari vehicles parked in a line. I can’t see what they’re watching, even when Dennis moves the vehicle around them and stops. Once he parks, though, I still don't see anything.
One of my companions points to the grass right in front of me.
Then someone points out a lion sleeping twenty-five feet away, also in tall grass.
I should correct that “tall grass” to “medium grass,” because it is not uncommon to have grass three and four feet high on the Mara. A lack of rain has kept the grass short. Not so good for the grazing animals, but great for spotting game.
However, if I were walking through here on foot, I would likely step on one of these lions before I saw it.
After a while, the lioness gets up and walks to the lion. She wakes him up…
…and lets him know it’s time. Again.
She returns to her resting spot...
And lover-boy goes back to sleep.
Fifteen minutes later, here she is again.
|He licks the back of her neck....|
|Biting her neck appears to be part of the coupling.|
|The female rolling onto her back is thought to assist in fertilization.|
These lions will mate frequently for a two-week period. At first, 20 to 40 times a day for several days.
Later, perhaps every 20 minutes. During this two-week period, the lions will not eat.
The male is Morani. These are Masai lions, a subspecies of lions.
Males generally weigh 300 to 450 lbs, while females weigh 220 to 360 lbs. One large male near Mt. Kenya was found to weigh 600 lbs.
We wait while the lioness goes off a distance and sleeps. Morani was probably asleep by the time she got there.
From Wikipedia: As with other cats’ penises, the male lion’s penis has spines that point backwards. During withdrawal of the penis, the spines rake the walls of the female’s vagina, which may cause ovulation.
The average gestation period is around 110 days, the female giving birth to a litter of one to four cubs in a secluded den (which may be a thicket, a reed-bed, a cave, or some other sheltered area) usually away from the rest of the pride.
So, if you’re wondering about the expression on the female’s face, now you know.
It’s nearing sundown, and we’re a long way from camp, so we go on our way. Morani and his lady friend are sleeping again.