Cape Town - Footage showing two maned lions mating in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve has caused a stir online, causing wildlife enthusiasts and experts to scratch their heads in wonder.
According to the Promise Mashile, who filmed the unique wildlife sighting and posted it to YouTube on 10 July this year, the "males were establishing a hierarchy amongst themselves".
Yes, affection between lions is common - males are often seen rubbing their heads together.
But is this mock-mating affection also common? According to Edwin Pierce, Sabi Sands Game Reserve infrastructure and environment manager, it is.
"Male lions “mating” with other males is not an altogether uncommon occurrence," the told Traveller24.
"This behaviour is often seen as a way of asserting dominance over another male, or a way of reinforcing their social bonds. Lions' social structures can be a complex system," he says.
You can see the footage here: Gay pride? Why are these two male lions mating?
This is not the first time two male lions were seen mating.
But the 'male' lions seen mating in northern Botswana in April this year, was a completely different case study.
National Geographic was able to clarify that one of the lions was more than likely a female African lion with a mane, a type of animal regularly seen in northern Botswana.
The maned lionesses of Botswana may carry a genetic disposition toward the phenomenon, Luke Hunter, president of the big-cat conservation group Panthera, explained to NatGeo.
Pierce agrees. He says, "Some females have been known to develop manes, while some males can also be mane-less".
He clarifies, however, that the male lions spotted in the Sabi Sands recently (in the footage above), "are definitely two male lions".
The animal kingdom is a wonderful one, and there are other African species which have also evolved masculine females as part of a survival strategy.
Spotted hyenas, for example, have gender-altering abilities.
Females are socially dominant, larger, and more aggressive than the males. But more than that, a female hyena has a reproductive organ similar to male genitalia, called a pseudo-penis. They are the only mammalian species with these characteristics.
What to read next on Traveller24:
- PICS: 25 Lions create the most epic Kruger memory EVER
- WATCH: 5 Must-see lion close-ups in the Kruger
- Whoa! Pride of 15 lions drinking water side-by-side is pure Kruger bliss