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  • Writer's pictureJenny Carless

Tree-climbing lions—and not in Manyara!

(c) Jenny Carless

I took this photo in Kenya’s Masai Mara about two years ago. It was late October; the migration had moved back south to the Serengeti and the short rains were expected soon—in other words, one of the least crowded times of the year. Just the way I like it.

It was almost noon. I’d just flown from Nanyuki, and my guide, David, had met me at the Mara North airstrip. We set off on the short drive to Kicheche Mara Camp (which I highly recommend, by the way).

Not five minutes out from the strip, we drove into a wooded area along a curving, bumpy dirt track, and David came to a quick stop. To the right, in among the shadows and fallen logs, we saw several lionesses and their cubs—the lionesses resting, the youngsters romping.

(c) Jenny Carless

We stopped to watch (of course; who needs lunch?). After a time, one of the lionesses pulled herself up, stretched and headed over toward a couple of trees on the far side of the pride from us. To our surprise, she jumped up into one. She looked off in one direction, then another; we thought she might be scouting for something. But then she just settled herself down on the largest branch for a rest. Maybe she’d just had enough of the cubs crawling all over her and wanted a touch of peace and quiet for her afternoon nap?

I’d always been told that it’s fairly unusual to see lions climb trees (all except the legendary tree-climbing lions of Lake Manyara), and David agreed. So within just minutes of arriving in the Mara, I’d been lucky enough to enjoy this scene!

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