Lions On Honeymoon- Article by Gareth Jones
Lions On Honeymoon At The Nairobi National Park
Early one cool morning we found a mating pair of lions near no 8 junction, quite close to the road. The one-eyed male was in his prime and is known to many people as Kitili, then after some checking and consulting with “Mama Simba”(aka Trish) we concluded that the lioness was called Serena. Numerous social media reports suggested that they had been on a “lion honeymoon” for at least the last 3 days.
We sat quietly watching the “honeymoon couple” for almost 2 hours, as they continued with their seemingly exhaustive marathon honeymoon. When they are matin,g, lions do not hunt and they seem to have a one-track mind as they devote all their time and energy to ensuring that their bloodline has a future. We observed many herbivores standing at a distance and watching the lions as if they knew they were not in any immediate danger. While we were there, they coupled on about 10 occasions, the actual mating act is actually very quick and usually results in a bit of snarling from the lioness that is mostly due to the series of reversed barbed spikes on the lion’s penis (thought by scientists to increase ovulation). Kitili also licked her head and dominated her by biting her neck gently! A mating lion couple can continue for about 5 days with intervals of about 15 min and can have as many as 250 couplings. The reason for this is to increase the possibility of pregnancy. If successful, it takes about 110 days before cubs are born (normally 2 or 3), let’s hope that Serena gets pregnant and can show her cubs in November 2020, time will tell!
The lion population in the park has had serious challenges in recent years, mostly due to domestic stock issues that result in them being killed outside the park, so it is always exciting to see newborn cubs. Sadly many cubs do not survive, so it is always very special when cubs survive and continue to thrive.
I noted that most of the people watching this lion activity were well behaved, as they witnessed special creative moments of a prime couple attempting to ensure the future of the Nairobi National Park Lions. Let’s hope their efforts are successful and that this “lion honeymoon” will result in thriving cubs.