Frequently Asked Questions About Tree Climbing Lions in Uganda

Uganda is blessed to be home to one of the most elusive species, the tree-climbing lions, second to only Tanzania’s Lake Manyara National Park in Africa. Undertake an African safari in Uganda or Tanzania, to encounter these rare species as they lie flat on fig trees in a chilly afternoon. The tree-climbing lions in Uganda can be viewed only in the Ishasha southern sector of the popular Queen Elizabeth National Park. This national park in addition to being home to the ‘Big 4’, it also boasts of providing habitat to the rare tree-climbing lions in Uganda.

Are you desperately searching for where you can meet these beautiful and special kings and queens of the jungle? Get ready to visit the Pearl of Africa – Uganda.

Facts about the tree climbing lions in Uganda

It is somehow not certain why lions climb trees, but the major underlying factor is the need to hide from flies and other small insects. Ishasha sector is somewhat characterized by mainly woodland vegetation and is usually infested with numerous flies. So these lions as a way of hiding away, tend to climb trees while resting.

Other sources, however, believe that these lions climb trees as a way of escaping the woodland vegetation high temperatures. And the scorching sun of the Ishasha sector. And they hope to get a cool breeze and shade up in the fig trees.

The tree climbing lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park are quite different from the ones in Manyara national park, in that the fig trees of Ishasha are short and so the lions can be easily seen in the early afternoon, during a game drive in Queen Elizabeth national park on a Uganda safari tour.

They are believed to be entirely not more than 2 populations of tree-climbing lions in the world, and Uganda being a diverse tourism destination is proud to have them.

The Ishasha sector is predominantly known for its flat undulating plains and woodland vegetation which harbor various animal species including Elephants, Buffaloes, Monkeys, and numerous species of antelopes. A night game drive will reward you with views of nocturnal species, and big cats including Leopards and Hyenas. Undertake a safari in Uganda and explore this hidden gem in Queen Elizabeth national park.

Are tree-climbing lions the same as other lions?

There is no big distinction between tree-climbing lions and other lion species. The only distinctive feature is the ability to climb trees. Usually, these lions might vary in size since tree-climbing lions have slightly lighter bodies since they have to balance while they climb the trees.

When it comes to viewing, tree-climbing lions are somewhat easier to be spotted as they hang in the tree branches. Unlike the non-tree-climbing ones that lie only on the ground. This is one of the reasons why the majority of visitors choose Queen Elizabeth national park over others such as Murchison falls national park and Kidepo Valley national park.

Is it possible to see tree-climbing lions in Uganda?

Tree-climbing lions are one of the critically endangered cat species in the world. The lions are restricted to specific areas and in Uganda, tree-climbing lions can only be found within Queen Elizabeth national park. Seeing tree-climbing lions is a possible venture for those that embark on a Uganda safari involving Queen Elizabeth national park.

In a safari vehicle, travelers get an opportunity of having a glance at this elusive species of big cats roaming the park.

Where can I see tree-climbing lions in Uganda?

Other than Queen Elizabeth national park also known as the “Medley of Wonders,” tree-climbing lions can never be found elsewhere in Uganda. Travelers who want something more than the Queen Elizabeth national park experience, cross over to Tanzania’s Lake Manyara national park. Many travelers have testified about the two national parks but Queen Elizabeth has emerged as the prime destination for tree-climbing lion lovers.

How many lions are found in Queen Elizabeth National Park?

Queen Elizabeth national park is home to over 250 individual lions. However, the numbers reduced over the past years due to poaching. But the Uganda Wildlife Authority and other authorities have increased the strictness of the laws regarding the illegal hunting of animals. Lions help in balancing the animals in the park by feeding on them. Lions also feed the sick and infected animals hence reducing the rates of spread of diseases and infection among wildlife.

Travelers enjoy views of lions dwelling in the park. On a lucky day, you can easily land on the lions hunting down a buffalo or gazelle.

What should I pack when heading for lion tracking in Uganda?

Lion tracking in Uganda is an easy-to-do safari activity that does not require specific equipment like that of gorilla trekking. Lions dwell in the savannah plains and the far they can hide is within the shrubs. Lion tracking in Queen Elizabeth national park is done on a safari vehicle and thus any attire can do the job. However, since the park is a savannah park, wearing short pants, carrying a safari hut, and having a good camera might be the relevant equipment for lion tracking on a Uganda safari. Some of these things can be purchased on the Ugandan local markets at a relatively cheap price. Do not flex, you will enjoy spectacular views of these magical species.

Can I get out of the safari vehicle while tracking lions in Uganda?

Lion tracking in Queen Elizabeth national park is a once in a lifetime safari experience. It is characterized by a group of people in the company of a park ranger or guide following a pride or individual lion. Lion tracking is more advanced compared to game drives. This is simply because, during tracking, the driver can go off the tracks and go deep into the savannah. The driver has to keep the car engine at its lowest voice in order to avoid scaring away the lions. You are advised to stay on your safari vehicle always since lions are one of the most dangerous cats and they like hiding hence there is no need of taking risks.

However, lions are shy animals irrespective of how brave they look. Lion trackers stand a high chance of diving deep into the life of lions and have spectacular moments such as fighting, hunting, mating, and marking territories. All these are common traits among lions.

Is there an age limit for lion tracking in Uganda?

Lion tracking permits in Queen Elizabeth national park are got from Uganda Wildlife Authority offices at the park entrance and they are not subject to acquisition by children below the age of 15 years.

What does lion tracking in Uganda entail?

Lioness in Uganda
Lioness in Uganda

Lion tracking in Uganda is more of research than just a safari activity. This is why the tracking permits are slightly higher than game drives. Tracking involves following lions or a lion with a radio collar. The collars are assigned by the Uganda Carnivore project under the Research Depart of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). You get to know the behaviors of lions for instance you learn about their hunting tactics. For example, when lions are to hunt a stronger animal such as a buffalo or giraffe. They separate into groups – the group that will cause commotion and confusion amongst other buffaloes. And the group that will take down the target buffalo.

Lions force mistakes, attack the weak and use patience as well as strategic planning. It can take over three hours for the entire hunting plan to be affected. This is because animals such as elephants and buffaloes work in unison to outnumber lions and in some cases, buffaloes kill the lions. Such and more experiences can only be felt during a lion-tracking safari in Queen Elizabeth national park.

Other than using radio collars and motion vibrators, other natural ways that help trackers notice the presence of lions in a given place include their loud roars, laughter from hyenas (since hyenas are always behind lions to snatch their kill). And signals from other animals for example, herbivores tend to stand still paying much attention. Rising their ears while others take off immediately. This is why a lion is usually considered the king of the jungle. It won the respect of other animals in the jungle.

Help me to know about Queen Elizabeth national park

Queen Elizabeth National Park is located within the Albertine Rift in Bukonjo region, western Uganda overlooking the Rwenzori Mountains. Queen Elizabeth National Park is arguably Uganda’s premier and most popular savanna reserve. Additionally, it is the second largest safari park after Murchison falls national park. The park covering a total area of 1,978 km . Covering hills, plains, forest, and swamp. Queen Elizabeth National Park is continuous with Parc National des Virunga in Congo. It forms one of the largest protected area systems in eastern Africa, in the Greater Virunga Landscape.

Other wildlife species

This park boasts an astounding 5000 hippos, 2500 elephants, and over 10,000 buffaloes flourishing in its grasslands and shorelines, this is the only safari park that guarantees sightings of some of Africa’s most elusive species. Hearing the echoes of elephants’ calls across Queen’s valleys filled with craters is an amazing experience. Other common herbivores include warthogs, waterbuck, Uganda kob, and topi, as well as the Sitatunga antelope. One of the most popular species among the primates within this park is undoubtedly the chimpanzee. And other ten species of primates that enjoy the park’s diverse habitats. Vervet and black-and-white colobus monkeys are always in the trees. Here they can be easily spotted, but the boldest of all are the baboons –car windows ought to be kept closed to avoid likely food thefts!

 The park’s most renowned attractions are the big cats, notably the elusive tree-climbing lions which thrive in the southern sector of Ishasha. They rest on the limbs of fig trees as well as an incredible number of up to 200 readily sighted lions. Solitary leopards are nocturnal and fiendishly clever, well camouflaged while making those fierce glimpses make the experience all the more rewarding! The smaller cats are also predominantly nocturnal and spotted more clearly during night game drives.

What is the appropriate time for lion tracking in Uganda?

Lion tracking in Uganda is an all-year-round safari activity however, the best season is the dry months of June to September and December to February. This is when the savannah grasslands are somewhat dry and hence spotting a lion might not be challenging.

How long does lion tracking in Uganda take?

Lion tracking in Uganda takes 2 to 3 hours per day. And a few people are allowed to track a given pride. This is because lions in Queen Elizabeth national park are not used to human beings. Confronting them in large numbers might look provocative and trigger their dangerous response.

Can children track lions in Uganda?

Children below the age of 15 years are not allowed to take part in lion tracking on a Uganda safari.

How many people are allowed to track lions in Uganda?

Lion tracking is an activity done by a few people per pride. This is because lions are dangerous animals and many people can cause danger. The other reason for few people is that trackers can get clear views of the lions which might not be the case with large numbers. No tourist would wish to miss capturing the best lion picture while tracking.

Where in Africa can I see tree-climbing lions?

Africa is indeed a blessed continent since it has unique tourist attractions which cannot be found elsewhere in the world. One of Africa’s pride is in the rare tree-climbing lions. Tree-climbing lions in Africa can be located in the following areas;

  • Queen Elizabeth national park – Uganda
  • Serengeti national park – Tanzania
  • Lake Manyara national park – Tanzania
  • Tarangire national park – Tanzania
  • The Great Kruger national park – South Africa
  • The Okavango Delta – Botswana
Which other national parks have lions in Uganda?

Talking about lions in Uganda, tourists should consider, Murchison falls national park and Kidepo valley national park. You need to keep it at the back of your mind that tree-climbing lions in Uganda can only be spotted in Queen Elizabeth national park.

How do I get a lion tracking permit in Uganda?

Lion tracking permits in Uganda can be got from Uganda Wildlife Authority offices in the respective national parks.

How much is a lion tracking permit in Queen Elizabeth national park?

Lion tracking in Uganda goes for USD 100, USD 80, and UGX 100,000 for foreign non-residents, foreign residents, and members of the East African Community respectively.

Having had an insight into tree-climbing lions in Uganda, we believe that your next step is planning your safari to Uganda. Come enjoy spectacular views of these mighty kings and queens of the jungle.

Undertake a safari in Uganda and explore this hidden gem in Queen Elizabeth national park.


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