LionGBT: Pride march in jungle noted in Gujarat

Times of India | 1 day ago | 24-09-2022 | 05:16 am

LionGBT: Pride march in jungle noted in Gujarat

AHMEDABAD: Gir has pinged on the 'gaydar' after two male lions were spotted putting up a very public display of affection in the forest. In mid-July, a social forestry officer was set up for another regular afternoon, observing a male lion mating with a lioness outside the Gir protected area in the Amreli district. Things, however, took a turn when after one or two successful couplings, the lioness grew tired, and the lion moved away from her to mount a male, who was waiting at a distance from them. Some minutes later, the officer spotted the first lion return to resume his mating with the lioness. Refusing to be named, the officer told TOI that, in nearly four days of mating with the lioness, the first lion mounted the receptive male at least three times. While male lions engaging with each other in sexual activity is rare, it is far from unknown. Lions have been spotted in gay encounters not just in Gir but also in Africa. Male lions have been observed courting other lions, including showing affection and caressing and mounting. Homosexuality in Gir lions and lionesses has been noted by forest officials, wildlife conservators, and researchers since 1973. "In Gujarat, former deputy forest conservators B P Pati and Sanat Chavan have documented the unusual behaviour. Such acts have been observed in less than 2% of mating incidents," said a senior official. In "Homosexuality in Asiatic Lion: A case study from Gir National Park and Sanctuary", Pati stated that the Asiatic lion is a social animal, and its natural sexual behaviour is generally restricted to heterosexualism, but there are a few exceptions. The paper, published in the Journal of Bombay Natural History Society in August 2001, stated that a pair of prime territorial males, aged 6 to 7 years, from Khokhra (an area in Gir), showed this unusual behaviour when they were not with females". The paper noted, “This dominant pair hold about 70 sq km, which falls in Sasanand Dedakadi range of the western part of Gir PA for the past one and a half years. The Khokhra males had established a record of mating with three of the four females in the territory. “Homosexual activity among these two males was first observed by a group of trackers for five days continuously in November 1999 and three days in December 1999. The larger male mounted, the smaller one, showed a subservient attitude and played the role of receptive partner. “The smaller one rarely growled, unlike larger ones during mating. Each mounting lasted 12-23 seconds, and the gap between the two mountings varied from 4-12 minutes. The frequency increased during the morning and evening hours. Of the 45 mountings observed, the smaller male showed repulsive action in four cases, which may be due to the actual anal penetration during mounting,” the paper stated. The paper noted that the areas where the Khokhra males moved had low female population, and many females were engaged in rearing cubs. “Due to overlapping territories, there is increasing pressure on the males to protect their territories from other male,” the paper stated. In 1982, Chavan reported lesbianism in the Asiatic lionesses of Gir. The paper “Observation of Homosexual behaviour in Asiatic lion”, also published in Bombay Natural History Society, stated that he observed homosexual behaviour in two adult lionesses on three occasions in Raidi and Vaniavav areas of Gir Sanctuary. Both the lionesses were adults over 15 years of age. The paper stated that lioness A was mating with a young male of 5 to 6 years. “On the third day of mating, the male seemed tired and kept resting most of the time. Lioness A, apparently not satisfied sexually, continued to present herself to the male. She went up to him and nudged him with her head between his two hindlegs, sometimes even partly lifting him from behind. At this, the male would move to another place. On the fourth day, when lioness A was posturing for the male to mount, lioness B mounted her with the same actions as the male, including neck biting, growling and rolling on its back. Then the females switched positions. This was repeated once on the same day and once on the fifth day. All this time, the male was also close, apparently indifferent to the females,” the paper stated. Interestingly, lions are by no means the only animal species where homosexual relations exist. Biologists have recorded same-sex sexual activity in more than 1,500 species, including flamingos, swans, dolphins, beetles, and giraffes.

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