WATCH: Lioness patiently teaches cubs to climb in Sabi Sands

Posted on 19 April 2024 By Savanna Douglas

In MalaMala Game Reserve, guide Michael Moth captured footage of a rare sight: a lioness teaching her four cubs to climb trees, an unusual skill for lions.

The footage captured by Moth was shared with


Typically, reserved in the initial days after birth to minimise stress, the lioness had kept her distance. However, on this day, she was ready to introduce her cubs to the world, and to show of their smarts.

As Moth and his group navigated the riverbed, they heard the lioness’s calls. Approaching, they found her perched in a small tree with her cubs playfully circling below.

The lioness called to her cubs, prompting them to look up and attempt to join her.

The tiny pride’s initial hesitation was due to the daunting height of the tree. One cub found a smaller, fallen branch to practice on.

Unsatisfied, the mother continued to coax her cubs to the tree, sharing with them a skill that is often possessed by a leopard, and not a lion. Lions generally do not climb trees unless lured by potential food or playful curiosity.

This lioness, however, was determined to teach her cubs to climb, an ultimately useful skill for various reasons, including safety and food retrieval.

Motivated by their mother’s encouragement, one cub bravely tackled the tree, climbing with determination until it reached her. This cub’s success inspired its siblings, though their achievements varied; one made it halfway, while others struggled to climb at all.

The lesson ended with the lioness descending, visibly proud of all her cubs for their efforts. Each cub learned a valuable lesson in persistence and bravery that might one day be crucial for their survival.

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