Watch as a Lion Climbs a Tree to Steal a Meal and Battle a Peeved Leopard

Written by Angie Menjivar
Updated: October 21, 2023
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Key Points

  • Male lions are 4 feet tall, 10 feet long, and weigh up to 250 pounds.
  • Male African leopards are 2.5 feet tall, 6 feet long, and weigh up to 95 pounds.
  • Both of these huge cats are carnivores.

A lion chases two rabbits and catches neither — so to speak — in the clip below. While looking to steal a leopard’s kill, it lingers to fight while the kill falls to the ground. The lion is strategic and brought backup, however. Lingering in the tree is merely a tactic to keep the leopard from being able to retrieve its kill. In the end, a member of the lion’s pride snatches the meal.

Can Lions Climb Trees?

This lioness scouts the landscape for prey from high up in an acacia tree in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania.

Some lions are surprisingly good at climbing.

© Watson

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Lions can climb trees but not all of them are very good at it. For instance, there are a few national parks in which lions frequently use their claws to hoist themselves up on a tree and rest on its branches. These lions show a unique form of agility above the ground. However, in other places of the world, lions don’t usually climb. One thing that happens when lions climb trees is that they encounter trouble getting back down. They have an especially hard time when they’re heavier.

Do Lions Scavenge Other Predators’ Meals?

Lions and elephants often meet one another at the watering hole.

Lions are not picky. The will happily eat any meat they come across, dead or alive.


Although lions typically hunt in prides, using the strength of the whole family to take down large prey, they may also hunt solo. When they hunt solo, they’re even more opportunistic, happy to take an easy meal from another predator. Not only are they opportunistic, but lions also resort to eating dead flesh when their usual prey animals are scarce. Most of the food they eat, they hunt themselves. But it’s not unusual for lions to scavenge.

Lion Steals Leopard’s Meal

Safari Animals You MUST See: African Leopard

Leopards like to eat half of their meal and drag the other half high up into a tree for later snacking.

©Michael Wick/

When the video below starts, a leopard is expertly climbing up a tree. Leopards have lean bodies built for climbing. This leopard isn’t just scaling its way up a vertical tree trunk, but it’s also carrying a fresh kill up the tree with it. The leopard has it by the neck, its lifeless body hanging down between its legs as it makes its way up higher. The leopard reaches the tree’s thick branches and leaps from one to the other, displaying its prowess.

It manages to make it to one of the highest points of the tree where some of the thicker branches meet the thinner branches. It can now enjoy its meal in peace. Just then, a lion appears on the ground. Without hesitating, the lioness quickly jumps onto the tree trunk, its large body steady as it grips with its huge claws and paws. Another lion appears on the ground as the one in the tree advances further up. The lion moves with great agility, finally reaching the leopard. Amid the tussle, they both lose the meal.

Watch the Footage Below!

@top.wild.animals #wildlife #animals #wildanimals ♬ Danger – SoundAudio

Is It Normal for a Leopard to Take Food Into a Tree?

leopard carrying kill up a tree, the prey much bigger than it

Leopards can carry animals that weigh more than they do up into a tree. They are very strong.


Yes, it is perfectly normal for a leopard to take its food into a tree. Leopards have evolved over time to become very adept climbers and can often be seen carrying their prey up into the branches of trees in order to avoid other predators or scavengers. This behavior is also beneficial for the leopard as they can use the high vantage point to survey their surroundings for potential threats before enjoying their meal.

Leopards are considered one of the most elusive big cats and therefore, they rely heavily on the cover of trees to keep them hidden from other predators and potential threats. Taking their food up into the tree helps them to remain well-hidden while enjoying their meal without interruption.

In addition to providing protection for leopards, taking food into a tree also allows them to feed in peace without having to compete with other animals over resources. This behavior has been observed among multiple subspecies of leopards throughout Africa and is considered an important part of their natural behavior.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Evelyn D. Harrison/

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About the Author

Angie Menjivar is a writer at A-Z-Animals primarily covering pets, wildlife, and the human spirit. She has 14 years of experience, holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology, and continues her studies into human behavior, working as a copywriter in the mental health space. She resides in North Carolina, where she's fallen in love with thunderstorms and uses them as an excuse to get extra cuddles from her three cats.

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