Can Lions Climb Trees?

Lions are carnivorous mammals widely known and rightly referred to as the king of the jungle. They rule the forests and every other animal in the forest respects them. With the lion being critically endangered and only less than 23 000 lions remaining in the African wild, they have become less common. Traveling around Africa, however, would increase your chances of spotting the lion, especially in Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Reserve, Botswana’s Okavango Delta, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Zambia, among other African countries.

According to scientists, almost all lions everywhere can climb trees and enjoy staying on the tree branches. Most of them, however, wonder how to get back to the ground from the tree when it is time to.

The Serengeti's Tree Climbing Lions
The Serengeti’s Tree Climbing Lions

The kind of the tree is however a determinant because, somehow, most lions need help from the tree when climbing. This is because they are created with enormous and very powerful front legs or forequarters and an overly stiff neck. This makes it a bit challenging to climb trees, especially for the male lions due to their huge weight. When they master the art, however, it becomes their culture and they really enjoy it. This article tells you if lions climb trees, when they do and how to behave in case a lion chases you.

Do All Lions Climb Trees?

Most of the lions have little to no need to climb trees, so they do not. Since they live in pride and are social animals, they easily defend their kill from all other predators and unlike leopards, they do not need to pull their prey up the tree for safety.

Most of the times, the male lions and the adult ones may find it challenging to climb the trees due to their weight, which makes tree-climbing a dangerous affair at times. It also depends on the kind of habitat the lions are living in. For example, if there are dangers in the area where the pride stays, they would most likely be adapted to climb on the trees for safety. Where the environment is normal, however, and the lions are living in a large pride, they may not see the need to climb on the trees and they will therefore not adapt that way or learn that habit.

Why Do Lions Climb Trees?

At times, lions may climb trees to get away from the heat on the ground. Also, they get an aerial view of the landscape and their potential prey from the trees. They also climb trees to escape pests. To lions, it doesn’t matter how small the pest is, they will try as they can to escape it.

Sometimes, however, lions can face danger on the ground, especially if they stay in smaller prides and their habitats are populated with large numbers of buffaloes and elephants. To evade a possible stampede from the buffaloes, they climb the trees for safety and hang on the branches. This is common in the Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. Usually, lions like to climb on African sycamore fig trees, the umbrella acacia thorn trees and other similar trees with their branches horizontally spread and close to the ground, which are easy to climb.

Should You Climb A Tree To Escape A Lion?

African Male Lion
African Male Lion

When a lion routs you, you should avoid climbing a tree and instead, resort to other tactics of countering the attack. This is because most of the lions, almost all, have the capability to climb a tree. They would snatch you from the tree, if they wanted to. 

Instead of climbing a tree, you should clap, scream and stand your ground, even when it proves unrealistic. Slowly moving to a safer area, such as a clear ground away from the bushes and the forest, exposes the lion to a threat of being noticed and attacked, scaring it away.

Should You Run From A Lion?

If a lion charges at you, try to be calm and not run, however difficult that might be. Running exposes your fear to the lion and it makes it more willing to run after you. You should avoid turning your back to it

You can consider shouting at the top of your voice, instead of running away from it. Chances are that a very loud voice will scare the lion and make it turn away. Clapping and waving at the lion also makes you seem threatening to it, increasing its chances of walking away. 

What To Do If A Lion Is Running Towards You

  1. Do not panic: It is true that if a lion turns against you, you will probably panic and act towards the direction of your adrenaline and thoughts. However, do everything you can to keep yourself calm and think straight. This can help in saving your life. Having knowledge on what to do if such a scenario happens would also contribute to a better response in case it happens. You should expect the lion to roar while charging at you, and you should be prepared for it in case it happens, so that it doesn’t frighten you beyond what you can handle. 
  1. Do not run: Even when the lion is charging, keep your ground and avoid running. You have to take charge of the condition and become a threat to the lion too, for the sake of your life. This means that you have no room for showing fear but a few minutes or even seconds to redeem yourself from the danger. You need to take charge of the situation and show the lion that you can be a threat, too. 
  1. Retreat slowly: Do not turn your back towards the lion. Turn to your side with the lion, but not facing the opposite direction. Avoid hiding in the bushes or getting into the forest because that is its territory and it will definitely defend it. Instead, slowly move to an open area where the lion cannot hide and it will probably be afraid to come into the open field. If you run away, the lion will probably sense that you are fearing it and chase you up. 
  1. Clap, shout and wave: Wave at the lion while walking away slowly, facing it but not directly away from it. This makes you seem bigger to the lion, scaring it away. Clapping and shouting with the loudest voice possible will also scare away the lion and make it either go away or stop pursuing you.

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