By Mark McConville
HOW MANY lions can you fit in a tree? It may sound like the start of a bad joke but as these pictures show the answer is quite a few.
Stunning shots show the family of lions spread out across different branches as they try to take a cat nap.
Other incredible images show the lions glaring at the cameraman who has interrupted their lazy day and their legs dangling from the branches.
The striking pictures were taken in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda by the managing director of Africa Horizon Safaris, Thomas Plura (34), from Pfarrkirchen, Germany, but now living in Kigali, Rwanda.
“In my images I try to capture the beauty of the Ugandan wildlife, be it the tree-climbing lions of Ishasha and Queen Elizabeth National Park or the endangered mountain gorillas in Bwindi, where over half of the remaining total population lives,” he said.
“Our world is so busy with technology, inventions, politics and arguments and war. Too many negative things and I want to capture some of the remaining beautiful things on our planet.
“I usually sit in the car for a while until the animals feel comfortable, then I climb slowly up to the open roof.
“My drivers know the area well and they can get me very close to the trees where those lions sleep in so that I don’t have to use too much zoom to get good shots.
“Standing on the top of a safari land cruiser roof when it is shifted up you can be almost at the same height as some of the lions and take nice pictures.”
The lion prefers grassy plains and savannahs, scrub bordering rivers and open woodlands with bushes. It is absent from rainforest and rarely enters closed forest. Lions occur in savannah grasslands with scattered Acacia trees, which serve as shade.
Plura, who took these photographs with a Canon EOD 5D Mark III, explained why he loves this kind of photography.
“I love the environment during the tour and I love especially what the photos show about the areas, the animals and people in those countries,” he said.
“In the western world there are so many negative things spread about Africa in general and Uganda/Rwanda especially and I want the people to see the reality. The people are good, the countries are not as miserable as often described and the wildlife and landscape is just fantastic.
“Uganda and Rwanda have a huge range of species including many endangered animals and those two countries put up an endless fight to save and conserve those animals. With my photos I want to capture and show this effort and that it is working.
“I want to encourage people to come and go on a tour through East Africa at least once in their life. That has nothing to do with making profits, but for two other reasons.
“One, it is a trip of a lifetime, seeing totally different cultures and how people can be happy without total wealth and overuse of technology and seeing the world’s most stunning animals in their real natural habitat instead of a zoo-cage can make you see your own life from a completely different point of view.
“Two, with every tour someone takes in East Africa, the communities like the Batwa-people in Bwindi, Uganda and others get a percentage as support which enables them to get their children educated, properly clothed and more and better material for farming and planting. Another part of the money goes straight for the conservation of the most endangered animals like the mountain gorilla (only 880 left in the world, 480 of them in Uganda, the rest is split between Rwanda and Congo) and the Rhinos (Uganda- ZIWA Rhino Sanctuary) and more.
“With the money from the tours (entrance fees, vehicle charges etc) they not only protect the animals left but they also try to increase their population.”
For more information see http://www.african-horizons.com