By Freya Coombes

THIS LIONESS was caught smiling at the camera and pulling funny faces for a delighted photographer.

These photos were captured by photographer Ruben Gazquex (35) in Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, using a Sony Alpha Camera.

The flies on her face don’t stop this lioness pulling some funny faces.

I had never seen such an expressive lioness,” said Ruben.

“If we think of apes it is easier to understand the expression on their faces, however, we never imagine big cats like lions, leopards or cheetahs with almost human expression

“The lioness did not stop grimacing because of the annoying flies, for this reason, we see unusual expressions on her face.

Being close to this lioness was a great experience, she had an incredible look.”

Approximately 850 to 900 lions live in the Masai Mara National Reserve. Living in prides of 15 to 20 members, the pride is often made up of three males and several females and cubs. In Maasai Mara, the females do the majority of the hunting, taking down wildebeest and zebras, with the males only providing aid with the larger beasts.

To spot a lioness in action during the day is rare due to their long hours of sleep taken during the day.

Due to their high metabolism, lions typically sleep around 20 hours a day, often making their kills at night. This makes it extremely difficult to capture photos of active lions as they are usually asleep during the hottest hours of the day.

“Interestingly, we spent hours with this lioness and her fellow because they were mating. That’s why she was so active during the day,” said Ruben.

We were struck by the fact that they were mating. The mating period is interesting because they can spend 3 days matting every twenty minutes or less.

I love taking photos that are not usual, photograph scenes that tell a story and that show the harshness of the cycle of life.”

“Being a wildlife photographer is not easy. Sometimes I spend hours trying to take a good picture because it depends on finding the animals, the animal’s behaviour, the light, conditions and of course your ability to take the pictures.”