Where to see tree-climbing lions in Africa?

Lions are probably the most feared and respected of all African wild animals. This is because it is a super predator and it is capable of hunting most of the savannah wildlife for food. The tree-climbing lions are probably one of the least understood of the big cats. These lions are believed to climb trees as a behavioral adaptation to protect themselves against the constant irritation of insect bites while they are grazing on the ground under the trees. Some animal behaviorists claim that these lions perfected the art of climbing trees as a way of escaping from the sweltering heat of the ground. While in the trees, they can enjoy the cool breeze and a blissful nap without worrying about what is happening on the ground. Moreover, this position is an excellent vantage point from which to observe the movement of prey as they cross the plain in search of grazing opportunities and water.

Climbing lions in Uganda

Climbing lions in Uganda

In the whole world, tree-climbing lions can only be found in four and these populations can only be found in Africa. Tree climbing lions can only be sighted in the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth national park, The Northern Tanzania Safari Circuit – Serengeti, Lake Manyara & Tarangire, The Greater Kruger National Park in South Africa, and The Okavango Delta in Botswana.

Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda

Ishasha is located in the southern part of Queen Elizabeth national park and this sector offers great game drives with nice scenery and view. A game drive in Queen Elizabeth has the highlight of searching the big fig- trees of lions but also offers sights of Uganda kobs, topi, buffalo, elephants, and more. Along with the animals, you can sport birds and scenic nature Tree-climbing Lions The Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park is known for the tree-climbing lions. Climbing trees is unusual behavior for these big cats. This is actually one of the only locations in Africa where lions have the habit of regularly climbing trees. In Ishasha you have a chance of seeing the lions, whose status is vulnerable since 1996 after a decrease of nearly 50% in 20yrs. The world’s rare pride of these tree climbing Lions feed on other animals in the wild.

The Northern Tanzania Safari Circuit – Serengeti, Lake Manyara & Tarangire

In the northern part of Tanzania, there are three places where the tree-climbing lions can be traced. Serengeti National Park, Lake Manyara National Park, and Tarangire National Parks. These three top African national parks are located close to each other on the famous Northern Tanzania safari circuit.

Serengeti’s Tree Climbing Lions

It is very unusual for a lion to climb trees, but this is no longer a myth as there exist tree-climbing lions in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, and Ishasha plains in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda.

Initially, tree-climbing lions were only at the Lake Manyara National Park in Tanzania but slowly shifted to the Serengeti where it is common to see lions up in the trees resting. However, the practice is specific to certain pride of lions.
In a pride where the older lions climb trees, the young lions learn and adapt to the behavior. They practice tree climbing and within no time, become perfect, a tradition they pass on to all other members of that same pride.
The Serengeti lions climb trees for fun and relaxation. During the day, you will see them lazying in the trees waiting for dusk to set in when their hunting spree starts.

Tree Climbing lions in Uganda

Tree Climbing lions in Uganda

In Ishasha plains, located in the Southern part of Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park, lions are always perched high on the trees after an eventful hunting spree in the morning. In this part of the park, lions climbing trees is considered a ritual.

Lake Manyara Park’s Tree-Climbing Lions

Lake Manyara national park’s tree-climbing lions are especially popular for sight with visitors. Up until recently, only Lake Manyara and Uganda’s Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth national park could boast this rare sight – although recent reports say that the phenomenon has now spread to the Serengeti as well.
Of course, this isn’t all they can see! In addition to catching a glimpse of the wild beast migration in motion, they can also spot cheetahs, a variety of fascinating birds, and even a few topi!

Tarangire’s Tree Climbing Lions

Tree climbing lions of Tanzania call Tarangire National Park home; it is the place where they have mastered the art of delicate balancing atop trees with their prey still intact. Huge pythons coil on trees in the park before making a move to kill their prey.
The park has over 550 species of birds giving a deep sense of the park’s brilliant birdlife and hundreds of termite mounds all over the park’s landscape.

The Greater Kruger National Park in South Africa

Another place to see wild lions in Africa that exhibit this strange behavior is in South Africa’s Kruger national park region. Tree-climbing lions have been sighted in both the national park (Kruger National Park) and private game reserves of Greater Kruger Park.
Much less common than sightings in East Africa, sharp-eyed rangers are often the only ones who have the pleasure of sighting these bough-loving cats. The majority of sightings take place near the Crocodile Bridge Camp in Kruger Park. So, if East Africa is too far away for you, then consider adding a Kruger Safari to your African safari bucket list.

The Okavango Delta in Botswana

The last one of the best places where tree-climbing lions can be seen in Africa is the Okavango Delta region in northern Botswana. Here the lions are increasingly spotted in the boughs of trees. It is not a common sight, but you could get lucky and see tree-climbing lions in certain areas of the Okavango Delta such as the Duba Plains and Moremi Game Reserve.

Lions are not the first animal that comes to mind when you think of an inland Delta, but the Lions of the Okavango have adapted to their wetland habitat, and often take to the water in pursuit of prey. Lions are of course one of the Big Five and are an iconic symbol of an African safari, and their powerful roar can be heard over 5km away. These large tan cats are hugely social animals that live in groups called pride. Their pride can have between 3 and 30 members in them. They usually prefer the open savannahs, but there are Lions found in desert conditions and the swamps of the Okavango Delta.

Lions are found in most parts of the Okavango, including swampy areas where you might not expect to see them. In fact, the Okavango lionsLions in have learned to swim in pursuit of their prey. As a result, many feelings of pride in the Delta have moved to developed forequarters due to all the swimming they do.

Lions are not generally known to be good climbers, maybe having a half-hearted attempt to steal a Leopard’s kill from where it has been hidden in the fork of a tree. Several Okavango Delta lions have been seen climbing trees and using the branches as a vantage point to look across the Delta.

Africa’s tree-climbing lions

While lions can climb trees, not all of them do so. Just like humans can climb trees, but choose not to, they have lost the agility they had as children. Similarly, adult lions are not good at climbing. Normally, these felines prefer to sit in the shade, particularly in the heat of the day. Adult males can weigh more than 180kg, so this weight makes it difficult for them to scale branches.
It’s not so much the ascent as the descent that causes the biggest problems for these big cats. Unsure of whether to go tail or head first, these chunky felines are not well-suited to arboreal heights. Compare a lion’s physique to that of a leopard. With muscular back legs and lean, agile bodies, the anatomy of a leopard is perfectly suited to tree climbing.