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Nick Tennick

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Nick has always loved the outdoors and never turns down an opportunity for an adventure. After finishing high school in Johannesburg, where he grew up, Nick spent a gap year in the Zimbabwean bushveld which truly sparked his love for wildlife and conservation ...

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on Tree Climbing Lions of Londolozi – Are Lions Good Climbers?

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Thanks for the update Nick. I know climbing lions are often seen in Kenya and Tanzania, in part so they can find shade and keep away from the pesky flies. Throughout my travels in Southern Africa, I’ve never seen a lion in a tree, but it makes sense I suppose, if the grasses are tall or they’re escaping another predator. Perhaps it will happen more often.

Lions do climb trees in South Africa, a lot more often than we observe. They have the ability to do so and in certain circumstances they don’t have the choice but to take to the tree tops.

Senior Digital Ranger

WOW great lion in tree photos. I see you were shooting at 1/8000. Is it necessary to shoot so fast. I shot birds in flight at a much lower speed. I will be there in June and want to learn as much as possible in advance.

Hi Mark, Thanks for the comment.

It was not necessary to have my shutter speed that high to capture the movement of the lion coming down the tree. A shutter speed of 1/1000 would have sufficed. However, due to poor lighting from an overcast day and the shadow cast from the tree, I boosted my ISO in Aperture priority mode. Hope that helps.

Certainly not as graceful as leopard, but A+ for effort nonetheless! This is a sighting I’d welcome any day.

Hi Chelsea, thanks for the comment. We had a lucky day coming across this sighting.

Lions are not the most graceful climbers as your videos show, but they are capable. Thanks for the update Nick.

Its my Pleasure, William.

I remember seeing 1 of the Tsalala sisters (think it was the younger tailless one) climb a tree in 2011. She didn’t go very high and made quite a meal of getting up and back down – definitely a million miles away from the grace of a leopard. I hope they don’t develop a taste for it, as I don’t want a repeat of Plaque Rock’s close shave or the Piva male’s death.

Hi Suzanne, thanks for the comment and sharing your special sighting. What a cool memory! Although it provides us with incredible sightings, we don’t want lions to get to comfortable climbing trees and stealing Leopard kills.

Nick thanks for sharing the videos of tree climbing lions. They are certainly not graceful clinbers and certainly cannot come down gracefully like the leopards do. But much to our amusement we enjoyed watching the videos.

Hi Valmai! Im thrilled you enjoyed the videos of the tree climbing lions.

Wow … those videos are amazing!!!

Thanks Bob and Lucie.

Great photos and video of this tree climbing lioness, Nick.
I have seen lions in trees in Tanzania and I think Botswana as well.
And of course in that great video from Londolozi which you also included in your blog. I love watching that video time and again

Thanks Christa! Im so glad you enjoyed watching the videos both old and new from Londolozi.

Hi Nick, those young ladies are really funny and amazingly beautiful and expressive. Their seem to smile, are like teenagers having fun. I would choose them in a week in pictures selection. Behaviour evolves in a way to favour survival , so maybe they will have more chances in the future, without harming leopards i hope

Thanks for the comment Francesca! They were really entertaining that day and I always enjoy seeing animals different behaviour from day to day. Luckily leopards still hold the crown of best climbers which keeps them out of harms way for the most part.

Nick, Thanks for sharing the amazing tree-climbing lions! You are right, they may be able to climb the trees, but getting down is another story!

Thanks for the comment Michael and Terri.

The lioness escaping the hyena…was she injured? Any idea why she waited so long to get away from them (letting them surround her)? Hopefully that was a good ending for her!

Hi Anita, That picture was from a different sighting but used to explain why lionesses would climb a tree. In that particular case, there was a zebra carcass that had been stolen by a clan of Hyenas and the lioness was trying to recover her meal. She was unharmed in the ordeal!

Lions in trees are always exciting…..unless you are the leopard above them! Even though we know that leopards are far more graceful in trees, it always is comical to see a lion really struggling to come down a tree….you would think the basic instinct to turn around and back down would be a given!

Hi Lisa, Thanks for the comment. I respect the lions for attempting to get up and down the tree even though it was very entertaining to watch.

How very cool to see that. Very ungraceful dissent. Lol. Leopards make it look so easy.

Leopards make it look so easy indeed Kara! Thanks for the comment.

Incredible sighting and images of the Styx loiness in the Marula tree! I also loved revisiting the videos from previous posts of lions in trees. Excellent post Nick!!

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