World Lion Day is just around the corner, so we trust you'll be cranking up a certain soundtrack and wailing incomprehensibly until the neighbours complain. But August 10 is not just about Disney characters and catchy songs, it's a chance to highlight the importance of the species and to raise lion conservation awareness worldwide. Lion population numbers have plummeted in the last century and the big cats, synonymous with the wilds of Africa, have vanished from over 95 percent of their historic range.

Our film crews have been lucky enough to spend time with these iconic predators in some of the last lion strongholds in Africa. From close encounters in Botswana's Okavango Delta to experiencing big-cat conservation in action in South Africa, here's a collection of some of our most treasured lion videos. 

Lion sniffs cameraman

One minute you're taking a few photos of a lion pride in the distance, and the next, a curious 300-pound lioness is sniffing your crotch. It's just another day at the office for Earth Touch cameraman Graham Springer.

Lion steal GoPro

We go for a walk on the wild side with Africa's apex predator. A lioness makes off with a GoPro and we’re treated to a journey into the heart of the pride. This GoPro lion picks up the mini camera and carries it in her mouth similar to a chew toy.

Lion mating ritual up close

It's not a behaviour often captured on film, but the Earth Touch crew got the chance to film African lions mating in the wild! When it comes to lion mating rituals, it's all about speed and stamina (and plenty of aggression). And monogamy is out of the window – females will mate with more than one suitor and since there's no specific breeding period, lions mate several times a year – and a mating marathon can involve twenty to forty romps a day (the amorous pair often doesn't even stop to eat!).

Lion Hysterectomy

Back in 2015, we took our cameras into the field to film an innovative surgery on a lioness: a hysterectomy. Lion populations in small game reserves need to be closely regulated – but how do you manage this without upsetting the natural balance or resorting to culling? Phinda Private Game Reserve in South Africa is solving this problem by performing partial hysterectomies on female lions.

Lions eat elephant

WARNING: This one contains some graphic imagery. Lions do not usually prey on elephants, but extreme drought had forced this pride in Botswana to take on nature's giants. The young calf had strayed too far from the rest of its herd, giving the lions the perfect opportunity to attack.

Top header image: Arno Meintjes/Flickr