About the Author

Pete Thorpe

Field Guide

Right from his very first bush trip at the age of four, Pete was always enthralled by this environment. Having grown up in the Middle East, Pete’s home-away-from-home has always been a bungalow in the Greater Kruger National Park, where his family had ...

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11 Comments

on Can Hyenas Climb Trees?

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Marinda Drake
Master Tracker

Interesting blog Pete. Many years ago we did see two young cheetah in an upright tree in Kruger. Not very high up in the tree though.

Ian Hall
Digital Tracker

I had never thought of asking that, thank you

Cindy Hauert
Explorer

I was on a game drive just recently when we ( Andrea and Sesant) watched the Makomsava female leopard catch a scrub hare. Alerted by the sounds, a hyena appeared, and the leopard immediately leapt into the closest bush. Not a tree, and a precarious save! Hyena decided that half a scrub hare wasn’t worth the effort, and wandered off, whereupon Makomsava came back down and finished off her snack. Gold.

Joan Schmiidt
Digital Tracker

Pete, great news article🤗

Vin Beni
Digital Tracker

Interesting that claws are retracted when leopards are at rest. Would love to understand more about the anatomy of this retraction and extension.

Andrew & Daniel Bolnick
Senior Digital Ranger

Nature is amazing how they equip certain animals with some abilities while other animals are blessed with others. Thanks for pointing these unique differences out to us. Enjoyed the read and the pictures

Darlene Knott
Digital Tracker

Interesting post! Thanks for explaining the differences!

Denise Vouri
Guest contributor

Thanks for the informative blog. I’d never thought about the claws of a hyena in the context of doing anything but running. Seems the leopards should be grateful they can’t climb as trees are their only safe haven to feed, especially as you state in areas rich with hyena populations. Is it the hyena’s keen sense of smell that leads them to a leopard kill?

Bob & Lucie Fjeldstad
Guest contributor

We know cheetah don’t climb trees but termite mounds & land rovers are a different story! [Sorry, tried to paste photo but no luck]

Victoria Auchincloss
Senior Digital Ranger

Thank heavens hyenas can not climb. They are successful enough without stealing leopards hard won meals!! Victoria

Joanne Wadsworth Kelley
Master Tracker

We all enjoyed your blog, Pete, and I’m sure many learned at least one new fact. I learned several. Physically I was amazed to learn that a Leopard’s forearms are not attached except by ligaments and muscle! Although in reflection, that aspect does give extra flexibility. The paw photo’s were visually interesting as well. I do have one question however. A friend, who has been to Londolozi countless times over the years, safaried in central Africa this year and posted so many images of LION’S up in trees!! In fact it seemed the norm! Lion’s have retractable claws as well as Leopards, so the capability is there….but I rarely have seen an Londolozi lion in a tree whereas it’s common practice further north. Why?? In Tony’s photo’s there wasn’t a kill hoisted up with the lion for safe keeping….so I’m puzzled about the different lion behavior between two geographical locations in Africa. Thanks for your reply.

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