Uganda’s wildlife is quite unique and is composed of some animals found almost nowhere else in the world. One of these is the tree climbing lions of Ishasha, in the southern sector of the Queen Elizabeth National Park. Ishasha is a town located in Rukungiri District in Southwestern Uganda.The town is adjacent to among others the Bwindi impenetrable rain forest and the Mweya area of the Queen Elizabeth National Park.
While cubs and young lions playfully climb trees as a form of exercise, it is a very unusual practice for adults to climb trees, considering their bodies are quite heavy, however, at Ishasha this rule is defied. The great felines spend most of their day resting up in the trees, mostly the fig as well as acacia trees, specially shaped for their comfort, only coming down for nourishment, excretion or reproduction. It is widely believed that the lions climb trees in order to shield themselves from the hot sun and also some insects like the tsetse flies.
The tree lions, being very aggressive carnivores (I guess all lions are), prey on other wildlife dwelling within the park area some of which include the Uganda Kobs, antelopes, and sometimes the buffaloes which come to graze in the park’s open savanna plains. It is simply amazing that the prides some times just lie high in the trees lazily staring down at their grazing prey and don’t actually try to attack it.
According to various sources, the lions’ trait of climbing trees appears to be learned and is therefore seen as a culture inherent from others. This is an assumption and it is still unclear why lions found elsewhere around the world do not climb trees as well.
Just like the tree climbing lions at Ishasha have a unique lifestyle of taking to the trees, so is their appearance. The manes of the male lions is black, something uncommon among other average lions.
Another place in Africa, and the world at large, popular for having tree climbing lions is the Lake Manyara region in the Serengeti, Southern Tanzania. Other extremely rare sightings have been established in the Kidepo Valley National Park in Northern Uganda, South Africa’s Kruger National Park, KwaZulu-Natal and Botswana, among others. However, such occasions are so rare, so the Ishasha and Lake Manyara regions are the most dominant in this account.
The lions aside, elephants, hippopotami, leopards, and other mammals, together with different species of beautiful birds are also found in the Ishasha region. The diversity of attractions in Ishasha area provide a tourist a memorable experience in this magnificent part of the country.
The Ishasha lions and their amazing traits and beauty is one thing that one ought to make a point to see in a life time. However, you should keep in mind that in case any of these lions decided to pursue you, climbing a tree would not be an option for these guys are the masters at this game and would catch you in a heart beat and with no much effort.