This Leopard Effortlessly Scales a Tree – With a Whole Impala in His Mouth!

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Written by Sharon Parry

Published: January 21, 2024

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There was absolutely no way that the leopard in this clip was going to share his impala meal with a hyena! Hyenas can be persistent and quite aggressive when it comes to pinching food so it is not surprising that this leopard took off with his meal. What is more surprising is that he heads vertically instead of horizontally. Yet, this makes perfect sense. Leopards are a lot better at climbing than hyenas are. Now the clever big cat just has to ensure he doesn’t drop his meal out of the tree! A lot of leopards lose their lunch that way.

Where Do Spotted Hyenas Normally Live?

Spotted hyenas are a native African species. Their distribution spreads south of the Sahara, taking in numerous countries, including Algeria, Mozambique, and Uganda. There are some populations in West Africa as well as in some southern and central African countries.

When it comes to habitat, hyenas are not too fussy! They can be found in semi-desert, savannah, and open woodland habitats, although you may also spot them in dry, dense woodlands and montane habitats. They are less commonly found in extreme deserts and in tropical rainforests.

The populations in southern Africa are thought to be stable. However, some Eastern, Central, and Western African populations are declining. This is mainly because of habitat loss, poisonings, and hunting/culling. It is estimated that there are between 27,000 and 47,000 spotted hyenas alive today.

Do Hyenas Normally Steal Food?

Group of feeding hyenas

Hyenas eat the entire animal, including bones.

©Jez Bennett/

Hyenas are carnivores who tend to focus on medium to large ungulates (hoofed animals) and small mammals. Despite having a reputation as scavengers, most of the time hyenas hunt and kill their own prey. They hunt in packs, often at night, and are willing to work as a team to tackle larger animals.

When they are not hunting, they are also happy to scavenge carcasses killed by other animals. They rely on scavenging when the numbers of their preferred prey are more limited. Hyenas target the remnants of carcasses that larger carnivores have abandoned. Typically, they will wait for lions to finish with their kills before moving in. With smaller predators, however, the hyena pack will steal the carcass before the original predator finishes. You often see this happening with leopards, and this is why the individual in this clip was desperate to drag his kill up into a tree!

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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