Ishasha Tree Climbing Lions

Uganda prides in being home to one of the only two of the tree- climbing populations in the Africa. The tree-climbing lions are a rare spectacle to have a sight of across Africa. Uganda is a home to about 450 lions, of which about 50 are “tree-climbing lions.”. The tree-Climbing Lions are found in Ishasha region lying in the southern part of the great Queen Elizabeth National park. This is the most accessible place in East Africa where you can have the best experience of tree-climbing Lions. Queen Elizabeth Park boasts pride of more than 50 tree-climbing lions, which find solace in the Sycamore and acacia trees. In Uganda, its only in Queen Elizabeth National park where the tree-climbing lions can be seen.

Tree-climbing lions can easily be traced in Queen Elizabeth National park, specifically at the extreme south of the Ishasha sector. It is not a common Characteristic of lions to climb trees. However, the “park-kings” can also be found in other national parks like Kidepo National Park, Murchison Falls National Park. These do not climb trees.  There have been notable occasions where rumors of sight of Tree-Climbing Lions in both South Africa and Kenya. However, these have not been evidenced yet. It’s on a rare occasion that some tree-climbing lions have been seen within Lake Manyara National Park found in Tanzania

Why tree climb?

Lazily hanging and sleeping away in the sycamore figs and Acacia, these big-cats can be spotted by a well-trained guide. They can hardly be seen under the glare of no guidance. Lions love the Acacia because they are wide enough, affording a quiet and comfortable place for resting during rains. According to research and interactions with the locals, many have tried to justify why these tree-climbing lions find themselves comfortable in the figs.




  • Some locals speak out that the behavior is of a cultural inclination in this group of the “Big Cats”.
  • These lions lay portrait in trees in order to find themselves undisturbed in their rest time after having a meal.
  • Others say the lions are fleeing the preying parasites, that come by mostly during the rainy seasons. This comes as a defensive and run-away measure from the tree-climbing lions to the hanging braches of the sycamore figs.
  • Because of season changes, the savannah lands at times get high temperatures over 27 degrees Celsius. Many of the cats run away to the trees from this heat, so as to find cooler places.
  • The tree-climbing lions use the trees to camouflage so that they can best catch their hunt. While hanging above in the trees, the wild Cats can have a cool view of their precious food.

What to expect

Queen Elizabeth National park has vast coverage of Fauna which favors a wide hope for various wildlife to inhabit. Fauna like Candlestick thorns, wild grasses all just around the park are a constant food supply to wildlife. These include Warthogs, Uganda Kobs, antelopes, Giraffes, Buffaloes and many more animals that roam the savannah lands. It is on such opportune moments as other animals feed that the tree-climbing lions take chance to also find prey.

The special, unique, and yet rare lion species of the Tree-climbing lions is a treasure to see and marvel at. You will discover that the Mane of the male tree-climbing lions is Black in color, making it totally a standout difference from other lions. Cubs of most lion species are visibly seen playing on tree branches. Unlike in Ishasha, both the young lions and mature lions find solace in the the Acacia and sycamore fig trees. They mostly climb these trees when the sun is rising.

Weighing between 240 and 450 pounds, it is not of a notable signature that lions are easily accustomed to the tree-climbing behavior. This special and distinct group of lions and evidenced in Ishasha (Uganda) and Lake Manyara National Park (Tanzania) has been able to master the skill of climbing trees over time, and hence teach their young cubs to follow suite. This is a learned discipline as opposed to the natural instinct of lions.

The number of lions in Uganda is increasingly declining from about 600 to 450 as attributed to factors like natural deaths, killing of cubs by the male lions, and the alleged poisoning of lions by the growing human population in the Ishasha region.

Your Tree-Climbing Lion Experience

Getting on a game drive in the Ishasha land guarantees you a worthwhile and memorable experience of encountering these lions as they lazily pose on the branches, scouting out their preys.  Here you may also get sight of tree-climbing leopards. These Ishasha tree-climbing lions are continuously becoming a fascinating attraction since thousands of tourists are constantly showing interest in seeing them. When you see out the tree-climbing “big cats” during one of the game drives, you will affirm to the unique traits of these creatures in Ishasha.

Many tourists get a dazzle of thoughts and loss to words as they marvel to the effortlessness of these big “wild kings of the jungle” lying bizarre on the tree branches. Many opt to take photo shoots as a memory cart to their life experience. You should not miss this great moment of having a fascinating and eye-catching experience as you make out your safari to either Queen Elizabeth National Park or Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.

Besides the unique tree-climbing lions while on your Queen Elizabeth National Park adventure, you may be to see other adorable cats like Leopards, and other animals including Buffaloes, elephants, Giraffes, Antelopes, and various bird species. The scenic views of the Rwenzori Mountains, also termed as Mountains of the moon, coupled with a number of Crater lakes, are also a marvel to see while to your Tree-climbing Lions’ adventure.