Tree Climbing Lions of Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park

By the word tree climbing lions, it may sound unusual and a phenomenon not commonly sighted by seasoned animal behaviorists. The behavior of lions climbing trees is indeed such a rare occurrence in that, there only two populations of lions that are documented to be tree climbing lions. Uganda is lucky to be one of the world’s destinations where tree climbing lions can be seen at the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park in Western Uganda. It is so usual to find a leopard lazily resting on a tree but not with the lions though they are all big cats. However, why do these lions exhibit this kind of behavior, why do lions climb trees? Here are the different perceptions by animal behaviorists, 

It is believed that lions climb trees as a behavioral adaptation to protecting themselves from the constant irritation of insect bites that they encounter while lying and resting on the ground. 

The other belief by animal behaviorists is that these lions climb trees as a way of escaping or staying away from the uncomfortably hot ground. So they therefore stay on the trees to enjoy the cool breeze without worrying about the bites as well as heat on the ground. 

The other reason for these lions climbing trees could be that the tree branches offer such a good point from which they can clearly the movement of their prey on the ground as they search for food and water. From there they can then plot very successful hunts against their prey which are in many cases antelopes, gazelles and impalas. 

Animal behaviorists suggest that the natural instincts of lions is not to climb trees, however, this specific population has mastered the skill and have taught their young ones to perfectly do so. This makes it more of a learned behavior.  A lions weighs about 250 to 400 pounds and therefore it is known that with this weight these lions cannot easily carry their bodies up to such heights, but the lions of the Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth National Park do so with ease. 

On a Uganda wildlife safari to Queen Elizabeth National Park, you may easily spot a lion as it rests on the tree and could even have the chance to see it slope down from the tree. On a game drive, sighting these tree climbing lions in Ishasha is such a privileged and treasured moment by many tourists. You can choose a package from Mr. Fleet Tours and Travel and visit Queen Elizabeth National Park on a 3 days safari.

No matter the reason for these lions climbing trees, be it for a good panoramic view, to stay away from bites and the heat, it’s still amazing that they are able to climb trees and have made it a habit. The more they climb the trees the more they are getting perfect at it and they do this till old age. 

Tree climbing lions can also be seen in neighboring Tanzania at Lake Manyara National Park and a few sightings have been made at Kruger National Park of South Africa.