By Helen Le Caplain
This is the moment a pride of lions were snapped balanced precariously at the top of a tiny tree – proving the irresistible lure of scaling festive foliage isn’t just confined to domestic kitties.
Senior field guide Adas Shemboko captured the moment seven lions and lionesses climbed and then lazed in the branches of a three-metre-high tree while two looked on longingly from below.
Adas snapped the precariously balanced beasts as he took a family on tour of the Nyati Plains in Grumeti Reserve, Tanzania, earlier this month.
The dad of two, who has worked at the reserve for ten years, said they chanced upon the unusual sight as they drove across the park on December 11.
Adas, 45, said: “It was a wonderful thing to experience – seeing our very own Serengeti Christmas tree.
“It doesn’t happen all that often during the day time when it’s hot – lions are very lazy and tend to sleep during the day.
“We didn’t go specifically to watch the lions, we were just passing by, but it was an awesome sighting.
“We stayed there an hour watching them climbing and pushing each other, it was great to see.”
Adas said he spotted the lions from afar as they drove to another part of the reserve and stopped to admire them.
Adas said: “As I was driving along from afar I could see the lions in the air.
“One of the lionesses decided to move a wonderful tree nearby. I told my guests that she would try and climb the tree so we moved forward to watch.
“It’s common behaviour for the lions to climb to avoid the flies that come with wildebeest at this time of year, it’s just unusual that they’re doing it during the day when it’s hot.
“The lions here are used to the vehicles and the people, we respect them and give them a comfortable distance so we’re not too close to them.
“I said to the family I was with ‘if you want to capture a special Christmas photo, this is it’, they really loved it.
“I love to be in the bush, it’s been a passion of mine since I was young.”