Those who have never witnessed this odd behavior might find it strange that the term “tree climbing lions” is used.
Even seasoned experts in animal behavior concur that climbing trees and perching on branches is not an evolutionary adaptation for lions.
There are just two known populations of tree climbing lions on the globe, proving how uncommon this occurrence really is.
While seeing a leopard dozing off in the jungle on a safari is typical, this peculiar behavior displayed by lions has drawn attention and curiosity.
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Where can we find this behavior?
In the western Ugandan town of Ishasha, Queen Elizabeth National Park is home to one such pack of rebellious lions.
Southern Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park and Lake Manyara National Park are home to the other population of the rare tree-climbing lions.
Even though both of these nations are in East Africa, South African safari travelers have occasionally seen lions in Kruger National Park acting similarly affectionately toward trees.
What specialists advise
It’s thought that lions climb trees as a behavioral adaptation to shield themselves from the continual stinging of insects while lounging beneath trees.
According to some experts on animal behavior, these lions have mastered the skill of climbing trees to escape the oppressive heat on the ground.
They may then unwind with a nice breeze and have a peaceful snooze without having to worry about what’s going on below.
Additionally, from this location, you may get a great view of how the prey moves as it crosses the plains in search of water and grazing spots.
Although lions are not physiologically suited to climbing trees, these different groups have developed this talent over time and have been able to pass it along to their offspring, providing a superb example of learned behavior as opposed to inherent inclination.
It takes a lot of strength to carry a lion’s body up such steep slopes considering their weight ranges from 250 to 400 pounds.
Take a look for yourself
In addition to enjoying the stunning views of the scenery, a trip to Lake Manyara Park in Tanzania or Ishasha in Uganda will provide you the chance to come across the population of the unique tree-climbing lions.
For instance, in Ishasha, lions may be seen perched on the limbs of enormous fig trees as they scan a herd of calmly grazing antelopes, gazelles, and impalas.
These herbivores are the lions’ primary food since they adore trees.
If you’re fortunate, you could witness the extraordinary spectacle of a lion cautiously and tenderly circling a tree branch before leaping to the earth.
In stark contrast to the immaculate agility and fluidity that a leopard’s movements convey, it exhibits an uncomfortable, almost unnatural hesitance.
One thing is certain: these lions climb the trees, whether to acquire a panoramic view of the surrounding escarpments or to avoid being irritated by insects on the ground like tsetse flies.
For elderly lions in particular, climbing trees successfully requires some effort, regular practice, and exceptional arboreal expertise.
Fortunately, just like any difficult talent, these lions get better at climbing trees as they practice.