Why Tree Climbing Lions of Lake Manyara are more defined than those in the Serengeti Plains

When touring the various National Parks in Northern Tanzania, it is quite common to see lions perched on trees during daylight.

But it is only Lake Manyara which has been flaunting its species of tree-climbing lions as the National Park’s trademark image.

The Lions in Serengeti also climb trees and usually find themselves battling leopards in the process of claiming branch territories.

This is because leopards normally use trees as their dining rooms after a hectic day of hunting, to ensure that their food is safe from hovering hyenas.

Tree-climbing lions can also be spotted on branches of trees dotting parts of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area’s highlands.

However is is the lions of Lake Manyara that seem to be scaling trees far more often than those in either Ngorongoro or the Serengeti plains..

Experts say the nature of Lake Manyara Park is what drives the cats to escape its grounds and seek refuge atop the trees.

The late Henry Fosbrooke, who is the first conservator of Ngorongoro notes that the lions in the conservation area would ascend onto tree branches during the times epidemics or when biting flies roam the precinct.

The Manyara lions sometimes take refuge onto trees escaping from buffaloes and elephants.

Trees also serve as vantage points for the cats to scan the entire landscape for prey when hunting for food.

This is because the Manyara National park is mostly covered by tall trees, making it difficult for the cats to see beyond a few meters.

Manyara National Park covers an area of 325 square kilometers.

The corresponding Lake occupies 230 square kilometers of the reserve, leaving a tiny, mostly forested strip for land mammals.

Manyara also features hot water springs, one of the rare geological features below the rift valley wall. The springs are 70 degrees warm enough to boil an egg!

The ground around the spring can really also heat up tremendously, in fact some observers say, the hot surface could be another reason why the Manyara lion results in climbing trees in order to escape the heat below.

Despite the many trees found in the Park, the lions of Lake Manyara carefully choose the ones to climb and stay for a long time.

The ferocious cats prefer Acacia Tortilis, Kigelia Africana, and Balanites Aegyptiaca

In most cases, the lions will rest on trees during hot days and descend onto the ground at dusk.

Although buffalos have occasionally been attacking lions in Manyara, researchers say there is not enough evidence that the cats could be scaling the trees to escape from the angry bisons’ horns.

Most of the time the lions are found to be resting between 5 and 6 meters above the ground, affording the cats a better view of their surroundings.

Still, since the trees are in densely vegetated areas, it is usually very difficult for them to observe any potential prey or oncoming threats.

Just like what Fosbrooke observed in Ngorongoro, sometimes the lions of Manyara would take refuge in trees to simply avoid being crawled upon by insects on the ground or even flies.

Flies in the bush hardly beat wings above 5 meters from ground and lions find this to be the sweet spot for their slumber.

Zoologists say this tree climbing behavior could have originally initiated during previous fly epidemics, and it has since been passed on culturally.

In fact, lion cubs were observed to attempt to climb up to the adult when they were about seven- or eight-month-old. It definitely seemed to be ‘lion see’, ‘lion do’.

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.