Lions are known for many things but climbing trees is generally not considered their best skill, however with a little motivation – for food, to escape danger, catch a cool breeze or escape the nasty tsetse fly, Lions will climb trees. There are two groups of very well-known tree climbing Lions that reside in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda and the other in Lake Manyara National Park in the Southern part of Tanzania. While the phenomena of tree climbing Lions is not isolated to these two regions and has been seen elsewhere in Africa, it is unclear whether the behavior is learned or innate.
Recently some amazing pictures hit the internet taken by Australian photographer Bobby-Jo Clow while on a safari in the Moru Kopjes area in the central Serengeti, Tanzania. When I first saw these last week I couldn’t believe my eyes and had to do a little more research to believe the Family Tree of Lions was real. Bobby-Jo Clow hit the jackpot capturing not just one, but a whole pride of big cats in a tree.
All images taken by Australian photographer Bobby-Jo Clow
I have to say I am just a little obsessed with these photos. Lions do not have the climbing skills of Leopards, but this group is doing ok. A+ for effort and style!
Bobby-Jo Clow writes in Africa Geographic that they were close enough to hear vocal interaction and even snoring. The group was also fortunate to observe breeding behavior and watched a male Lion get blocked by a young Lion when trying to unsuccessfully pursue a female up the tree.
I was looking at some pictures taken in the Serengeti on my first trip to Africa. They were shot with a crappy point and shoot camera, no fancy zoom lens, but looking back at them now I don’t think that matters. These were the first big cats I would see in the wild, and also the first images of the big cats that I would take. The moments represented would remain burned into my memory.
Cheetah mom and 5 cubs trailing along behind her
I remember smiling ear to ear when this Cheetah mom crossed the road in front of our vehicle. I was so excited that I let out a squeal of joy but was quickly and politely told to be quiet, my safari etiquette vastly improved since then. Mom walked passed us as if we weren’t there and her 5 cubs pranced by, their innocent and curious expression holding all of us captive.
Collard Lioness on rock
This hazy image is of one of my first Lions. This Lioness sat calmly on a rock turning only once to glance our way revealing a thick brown collar around her neck. She was one cool, regal cat. Although the photo is not ideal, at the time I didn’t care because what I saw was better than what any camera could capture. I remember being intrigued about the collar and wondered if it bothered her as it seemed cumbersome.
Africa has changed much since I first visited, as have my photographs (thankfully). These pictures are a marker of a time when there were no traffic jams in the Serengeti and Cheetah and Lion numbers were seemingly endless.