Watch This Hyena Make a Detour When a Dominant Leopard Claims Dominance on an Open Road

Written by Kirstin Harrington
Updated: October 19, 2023
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Key Points:

  • Hyenas must always be watchful of apex predators like lions, tigers, and leopards. They utilize a variety of defense mechanisms like concealment, alertness, and hostility.
  • Leopards are apex predators and perform their best the closer they can get to their prey before pouncing.
  • In the video below, a hyena demonstrates street smarts in the wild by taking the long way around a leopard relaxing directly in its path.

The way an animal displays dominance in the wild can vary greatly from one creature to another. Bears, for instance, will walk toward other bears with their head up and ears forward. Male lions will kill most other males when taking on a new price, including the cubs. 

Leopards rarely have to show dominance because they are such solitary animals. But even when a creature does cross a leopard’s path, they know who has the upper hand. A video from Latest Sightings shows us just that. 

Watch the Full Video

A Wise Hyena Takes the High Road

It starts with a leopard relaxing in the middle of a dirt road. It’s safe to say this cat has claimed the territory as its own. Suddenly, a hyena appears, keeping a close eye on the feline. 

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It’s worth stating that dominant leopards and hyenas are enemies in the wild. If these two animals were to come to blows, the vast majority of the time, the big cat would win. 

Although a hyena can attack a leopard, the spotted cat is built with incredible speed. The pair in this viral video shows that sometimes, hyenas are smarter than they look. Instead of instigating a fight with the feline, the hyena makes a massive loop, cutting into nearby weeds to avoid the cat. 

Hyena in woodland

Hyenas are more intelligent than they appear, being instinctively aware of threats to their safety.

©Ondrej Prosicky/Shutterstock.com

One commenter on the footage makes a funny remark, “Animals are fascinating. Sometimes they tear each other’s throat out, other times they walk past each other like work friends on a Tuesday.”

If you watch closely, the hyena is eyeing the leopard to make sure there aren’t any last-minute movements. 

How Do Dominant Leopards Hunt?

Jaguar - Cat, Abstract, Africa, Animal, Animal Body Part

©iStock.com/Byrdyak

The leopard stalks or ambushes its target in order to capture it. It does its best to get as close to the animal as feasible in either situation. Following a swift, energetic charge, it pounces on the victim and bites it in the neck to finish it off. 

Leopards are incapable of pursuing their prey over great distances and can give up if the initial aspect of surprise is gone and their supposed prey escapes. Leopards consume a wide range of foods, such as wildebeest and fish, however, the majority of their diet consists of antelope.

Although a dominant leopard can easily take down a hyena, the chances of the cat eating the animal are slim. 

How Do Hyenas Protect Themselves?

A lioness, Panthera leo, runs with ears back and mouth open from spotted hyenas, Crocuta crocuta

Hyenas must always be on the lookout for predators like lions, and be ready to defend themselves.

©MintImages/Shutterstock.com

Hyenas need to stay vigilant for predators at all times. These creatures are frequently the prey of bigger predators like tigers, leopards, and lions. Hyenas use a variety of defense mechanisms, such as concealment, alertness, and hostility.  

Staying vigilant remains one of the most essential methods that hyenas defend themselves. These creatures are always alert for warning signs of threat. They will scream out loudly to alert the rest of the group if they spot an approaching predator.  

Is it Normal Behavior for Hyenas and Cougars to Cross Paths Without Conflict?

In Africa and Asia, it’s common for the territories of hyenas and leopards to overlap. While a leopard operating alone is normal, hyenas usually stick together in clans. Leopards, which feed on reptiles, birds, rodents, fish, and some larger prey like antelopes, warthogs, and baboons, tend to avoid hyenas. The reason for this is that hyenas are scavengers, and will often try to steal carrion from other predators.

Because of this, leopards–which are adept at climbing–will take their kills into trees to avoid scavengers. Leopards avoid confrontation with groups of hyenas in general, as these animals are almost the same size, aggressive, and bold in numbers. 

Hyenas have strength in their group and may purposely take on a leopard in that case. It’s not very common for a lone hyena to encounter a leopard without some level of conflict taking place, either. The fact that the hyena in the video chose to avoid confrontation with the leopard was a smart move, to say the least.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/mlschach


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About the Author

Kirstin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering animals, news topics, fun places, and helpful tips. Kirstin has been writing on a variety of topics for over five years. She has her real estate license, along with an associates degree in another field. A resident of Minnesota, Kirstin treats her two cats (Spook and Finlay) like the children they are. She never misses an opportunity to explore a thrift store with a coffee in hand, especially if it’s a cold autumn day!

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