How many lions can fit in one tree? A lot, apparently. Australian photographer Bobby-Jo Clow was fortunate enough to recently come across nearly a half a pride of lions in a tree during a safari in Tanzania’s Central Serengeti.
“The pride was at least 25 strong and at one stage I counted up to 15 lions in the tree. Watching the lions trying to reposition themselves in the tree was very comical as they are very clumsy and lack the leopard’s climbing skills. One lioness had an incredibly rotund belly and she was letting it all hang out whilst perched on the tree,” Clow wrote in a blog for Africa Geographic.
Like most cats, lions are capable of climbing trees, although they tend to do it less often than leopards. Nevertheless, some lion prides in Tanzania are famed for their tree-climbing abilities, especially those cats living in Lake Manyara Park.
What exactly are so many lions doing in that tree? Cats will often scramble up a tree to escape danger or to chase prey, but these lions seem to be content to lay around. Clow said his guide speculated that the lions may have climbed up to escape insects in the grass. Recent rains have caused unusually thick grass growth in the Serengeti plains, which may have resulted in an increased number of biting insects.
Clow also noted a bit of drama while the lions were lounging around. As the safari group looked on, one of the male lions began to aggressively pursue a female he had mated with earlier. The female did not apparently want to return his advances and some of the other cats helped prevent the male from climbing the tree.
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