Lion Notes 1
Male Lion Marking his Territory
Photo Details: Male lion (Panthera leo) performing scuffing ceremony to mark his territory, Mashatu Game Reserve, Tuli Block, Botswana.
Camera: Canon EOS 400D (Canon Rebel XS 10.1MP); Lens: Canon 70-300 F4-5.6 IS USM; Focal Length: 240mm; Shutter speed: 1/500; Aperture: f5.6; ISO: 400.
Additional Info: Male lions within a pride regularly mark the boundaries of their defended territory by spraying urine on bushes and other landmarks. This is often followed by the scuffing ceremony where the lion rakes the ground with his back feet a number of times, as in the picture above.
"Prominent objects bordering roads, paths, kopies, water holes, and solitary trees tend to become regular scent posts that reek of lion urine", explains Richard Despard Estes in his book, The Behavior Guide to African Mammals.
Lion Cubs Going Walkabout
Photo Details: A pair of lion cubs striding out boldly with their mother following in the background, Mashatu Game Reserve, Tuli Block, Botswana.
Camera: Canon EOS 400D Digital; Lens: Canon EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM; Focal Length: 180mm; Shutter speed: 1/800; Aperture: f5.6; ISO: 400.
Additional Info: Lion cubs are weaned at seven to nine months, but are unable to fend for themselves before they’re 16 months old, although they start to eat meat at about three months.
Cubs stay with their mothers for about two years, at which stage they’re old enough to join the pride on hunting excursions. While young males are expelled from the pride when they’re 2½ to 3 years old, females usually remain with the pride for their whole lives.
Male lion siblings often stay together after being forced to leave the pride by the resident dominant males and will then live a nomadic life as young bachelors until old and strong enough to compete for a territory of their own, where they will have the benefit of working as a team in challenging a pride’s resident male or males.
For more about lions and their social structure, breeding, and hunting habits, see our article Lion Facts
Lion Cub Reaching out to Male Lion
Photo Details: Lion cub (Panthera leo) reaches out tentatively to big male lion, then leans forward to touch the big guy's nose, Mashatu Game Reserve, Tuli Block, Botswana.
Camera: Canon EOS 400D (Canon Rebel XS 10.1MP); Lens: Canon 70-300 F4-5.6 IS USM; Focal Length: 300mm; Shutter speed: 1/200; Aperture: f5.6; ISO: 400.
Additional Info: The cub and adult male appeared to be part of a pride comprising two similar-looking males (possibly brothers) and three females.
Of the females, two had a pair of cubs each, approximately the same age. So it's quite probable the cub was interacting with its father - or maybe its uncle. Later, in the space of a couple of days, we saw both adult males mating with the third female, which means it's possible her next litter could comprise cubs sired by two different fathers.
Lions Mating, Close-Up
Photo Details: Lion pair (Panthera leo) mating, close-up view, Mashatu Game Reserve, Tuli Block, Botswana.
Camera: Canon EOS 400D (Canon Rebel XS 10.1MP); Lens: Canon 70-300 F4-5.6 IS USM; Focal Length: 110mm; Shutter speed: 1/1250; Aperture: f5.6; ISO: 400.
Additional Info: As mentioned in above note, we saw a lioness mating with two different males within the space of a couple of days while in Mashatu Game Reserve. The sexual behavior of lions, in the context of a pride's social structure, is quite fascinating and I have described what we saw in more detail with pictures and video - see Lions Mating article for more.
Jump to Lion Notes 2 or return to Wildlife Notes Home