After all, they are the apex predator (in Kruger) and occur in much lower numbers than most of the other large mammals. This is only natural, otherwise they would run out of food soon enough, after depleting the herbivores in their range.
They are also superbly camouflaged, especially in winter, and generally sleep in deep shade for most of the day.
In Kruger, which has deliberately few tourist roads for it's large size, this means that we can search for hours, and occasionally days, before finding lion.
So, when we get to hear of a mating pair of lions we get quite excited. This is not only because it's an unusual sighting for us, but because they tend to "hang out" in the area where they are first spotted for a couple or more days, if we are lucky.
The female lion goes into oestrus for several days and like all cats only ovulates and conceives after repeated copulation. During the few days she is in oestrus, the male lion usually changes, with the final partner likely to be the dominant male in the pride, or area.
Luckily for us, mating pairs often seem to prefer open areas, and this sometimes results in them being on the road, or very close to it.
However, we have to be patient when we manage to get into a lion sighting of this type.
The actual mating takes a only a few, spectacular seconds, accompanied by fierce growling and snarling.
Then both cats flop down, close to each other, the female rolling over onto her back.
For the next ten to twenty minutes nothing happens........
The male rises, stretches, sniffs encouragingly at the female, and the action starts all over again.
As I said previously, this can go on for two or more days and if we are staying in the area and the itinerary allows, we come back again, and again.....
Finding lion can be a challenge, but seeing mating lion is an exceptional event!!
My guests and I were lucky to see a mating pair this last week in Kruger, and I'm not sure if they fully realise how privileged they were.