Ishasha sector, the home of Tree Climbing Lions in Uganda

Queen Elizabeth National park is one of Uganda’s popular parks and its scenery and wildlife make it popular. It has two parts, the northern that has the Kasenyi plains, Kazinga Channel, Kyambura gorge, and the craters, the southern sector- The Ishasha sector.

Somehow, the Ishasha sector is removed from the rest of Queen Elizabeth National Park and it runs south from Lake Edward and flanked by the Ishasha River and the Congo border in the west. Maramagambo Forest creates a separation of the Ishasha sector from the northern part of Queen Elizabeth National park. Ishasha sector ranks, among the most alluring game viewing areas in Queen Elizabeth National park because of the famous lion prides that lazily rest in the trees here. The plains here are an untrammeled character and also support large herds of Kobs, buffaloes, topi, waterbucks, warthog, elephants, and monkeys. Those that intent on seeing lions in trees, most see in the heat of the day between 11 am to 15:00.

Most lions are terrestrial, and Ishasha is one of the few places in Africa where these predators usually climb trees, just like in Lake Manyara national park, and some areas of Serengeti in Tanzania. Ishasha is most probably the most reliable site for this sighting. The explanation for this behavior in lions in this area is not concluded yet because limited studies have been done and they don’t link with any internal or external stimuli, though it has been related to escaping the biting flies, beating the heat, and even good viewing spot for prey. In the Ishasha sector, the sycamore fig and Albezia trees have favor over trees to host these predators.

Two main circuits run out of Ishasha, the northern and southern loops all about 20km. The southern one is the most productive that goes through the Kob breeding ground, where predators stick close to prey. The north loop is good for general game viewing with open and boundless horizons on the North West. It extends northwards towards the marshy Lake Edward Flats. The Ishasha River can be explored on foot from the campsites and lodges along its bank and it has a population of hippos and the riparian forest on its fringes supports bushbucks, monkeys, and several birds.

All the southern approach to Ishasha is 22km away by road from a small town of Kihihi that also has an airstrip connected to Entebbe and Kampala by daily flights.

The Wildlife here might be popular with tourists, but once it crosses to communities that live on the boundaries with the park at Bukorwe village, it has a few fans and human-wildlife conflicts are common here. But Uganda Conservation Foundation and Uganda Wildlife Authority are working to end this. They have encouraged the formation of community groups that are visited to make tourism sense to communities. We encourage visiting the Ishasha Community Uplift Group, for community tours and see how locals cope.

Don’t miss on the life here when connecting to Bwindi Impenetrable national park from Queen Elizabeth National park and the other way round.