There have been a number of articles about tree-climbing lions and some parks around Africa have claimed it their own specialty, declaring such sightings as extremely rare. You’ve probably heard of these tree climbing cats at Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park or even Tanzania’s Lake Manyara National Park, but South Africa’s Kruger National Park and even Botswana’s Savuti area are also reporting such sightings.
It’s about time we add South Luangwa, Zambia to the list of such places where you may be lucky enough to see lions climbing trees.
Here are some pictures of 4 different sightings, one of which had 5 lions in the tree taken by Isabelle Defourny and Josephat of Kafunta Safaris
In South Luangwa the sightings seem to be more frequent in the hottest season which seems to confirm that lions seek higher altitude for cooler air, and to get away from annoying insects. Cubs learn this behaviour from their older relatives, and so the pride becomes accustomed to the habit. It’s always great fun to watch them. And they seem to forget over and over again that once they are up there… they also need to come down! Which often proofs more difficult, and certainly more entertaining for us!
It’s hard to say if this habit will become even more common.
In the meantime, when it comes to climbing trees, leopards shouldn’t fear to loose their “Best in Show” title. Lions still have a long way to go to dethrone their distant cousins, and will require a lot more practice to get rid of their awkwardness and clumsiness!