The Tree-Climbing Lions of Lake Manyara...

August 21, 2007

For three days, we had been going on both morning and evening safaris in Lake Manyara; we had seen lot of other interesting things, but of course, every tourist wishes to sight that unusual phenomenon, the tree-climbing lions of Lake Manyara.

Our guide, Huruma, told us that only 10% of visitors ever get to see these animals which have learnt to climb trees; so I thought that my usual Murphy’s record would hold good here, too. But since we had seen so many lions in the Serengeti, and actually been able to sight a leopard the very first evening, I did not entirely lose hope.

The second evening, we had sighted a leopard in the dusk, though not all of us were able to see it, but after three days, KM’s brothers and their families had to leave.

The next morning safari for the two of us was extremely productive in terms of all sorts of fascinating birds and mammals, and we decided that in the evening, we would go to the Hot Springs, which is 25 km away from the only entrance to the park:

signpost..with an ex-buffalo

(note…every signpost in the park seemed to have a buffalo skull set upon it!)

As we went deeper into the park, Huruma suddenly gave an exclamation. His trained eye had spotted what was, then, rather difficult for us to see... WHAT'S THAT IN THE TREE????!!!!! Could YOU see the subtle dark shapes in the tree in that picture? But then, he drove up (quite boldly, I thought!) to the tree ahead of us, and there they were: both of them...above us He said that they must have killed and eaten not long before, and were going to rest on the tree now. This certainly reassured us a little bit, otherwise, we might have kept our distance... But instead, we inched closer, so that they were directly overhead: a little closer.... They had just about climbed into the tree when Huruma spotted them; the young male (his mane is just beginning to form) had already settled down, and the lioness was moving up and down the branches, looking for a more comfy place: can't stop clicking.... We just couldn't stop clicking, and they were not in the least bothered by us. Just look at the indolence of the male! nothing to do Their totally ignoring us made us bolder, and we started clicking a little more... aren't scared of me, are you? lazy..but majestic And then he looked down straight into my lens, as if to ask, politely, "would you like me to pose for you?" You want me to look at the camera? OK! With a last few shots, which I had featured in and some videos,wbich you can see at

I am posting just one video here as a sample…do go look at the others….

We decided to leave them, most reluctantly, to carry on to the Hot Springs…if anyone had told me that I would have to leave the lions and go off, rather than the other way around, I would never have believed them!

When we came back from the Hot Spring, more than an hour later, they were still there, and several vans were pulled up, enjoying the view. The people in them just could not understand why we didn’t wait too long..they must have thought us the most blase wildlifers in the world, to go off after five minutes of looking at them! They didn’t know about our earlier tryst with the King and the Queen…