If you just glance down this page, you won’t see any pictures of baby lions. So why is this post part of the Mamas and Babies series?
Because this is about a mama protecting her babies.
Lions live in prides. Everyone knows that. A dominate male and perhaps a few of his brothers or cousins; a group of females; and, of course, their offspring. But what happens when a new male enters the territory and wants to get some of the action? If the new male succeeds in killing or chasing off the pride males (particularly the dominant male), the interloper will then also kill the babies. This causes nursing females to go into heat so the new male can mate with her, ensuring the survival of his DNA.
Now, I’m a mama. And I would get pretty upset if some guy tried to kill my children. A lion mother is equally as protective. Her main weapon: lead the new male away from her cubs. She does this by pretending to be interested in mating – teasing the male and leading him on, literally.
One morning in the Masai Mara, we watched for several hours as one female led a male far away until he finally gave up.
The chase began at first light:
The lioness first heads in a direction away from the pride, with the male following:
First enticing the male, then snarling at him:
The chase goes on and on. Rest breaks (and yawns) are necessary:
Several times, the female signals the male she is ready and he starts to mount her:
But, no. She turns on him:
And gives him a piece of her mind:
He is not too pleased:
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Give up. Babies are saved this time.
Posted for World Lion Day (August 10, 2015) and in honor of Cecil.