Get Ready for Safari Trips

By Ann Jones

On the tawny grasslands of an African wildlife reserve, a gaunt male lion drags himself to a resting female. He sniffs. His upper lip curls in a grimace of fierce delight. Deliberately he mounts the female, and with two or three quick strokes accomplishes the mating.

As he withdraws, the female rolls lazily onto her back, flinging one limp forepaw coyly over her eyes. The male shuffles a few feet off, collapses in the dust, and instantly falls into a deep and seemingly dream-free sleep. Ten minutes later, he rouses himself, sniffs the air, and the mating begins again.

A few yards away, I watch from an open Land Rover with four male guests of a nearby safari lodge—privileged and silent witnesses, stunned by the primal act.

Our African guide whispers, "They'll do that every ten minutes or so until the male gets too tired or hungry." For more than an hour, I watch the lions—and the men, who sweat a lot and squirm each time the King of the Beasts sniffs the air and hauls his wasted body once again toward the female.

In answer to their unasked question, our guide whispers: "It'll take about three days." One of the men nervously bursts into hysterical laughter. Another emits a loud sobbing groan, and another reaches automatically for his hip flask and takes a long pull. The fourth man sort of collapses inwardly in his corner, like a pile of laundry. Where else but on safari, I wonder, can you learn so much so fast about your fellow creatures?

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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