A Morning Spent with Tree Climbing Cheetahs

Johan van Zyl All Authors, Johan 3 Comments

There is a very popular saying amongst Guides that Animals don’t read books!

Often books will say that Lions and Leopard only hunt at night, where numerous times we’ve seen both these big cats hunt during the day, sometimes even at scorching hot temperatures if they are desperate.

A few days ago I got reminded of this again…

We followed Cheetah tracks early in the morning, my guests visibly super excited at the possibility of seeing Cheetahs for their first time.  After tracking for an hour and a half we spotted them on top of a mountain, scanning their surroundings for potential prey, when it happened… “Do Cheetahs climb trees”? my guests asked.  “No not really.  They will often climb up termite mounds, small elevation points, even vehicles in some areas (this is a whole nother debate we can discuss another time) but not trees” was my answer.  The Cheetahs slowly moved down from the mountain to a big open plains area, where we positioned ourselves carefully so my guests could get the best images possible, and then… (yip you guessed it…) they climbed up the biggest tree you could possibly find in the area, and to make it worse, they climbed right to the TOP!

We couldn’t help but stare at each other briefly, before we all burst out laughing!  To our amazement (and amusement) these 2 Male Cheetahs climbed right to the top of the tree, where there was a big Sociable Weaver’s nest.  Without wondering too much about why they would climb right to the top of the tree, we snapped away, hoping to document this amazing sight.

After an unbelievable sighting we shared our thoughts over a well deserved cup of coffee, as to why these Cheetahs would climb right to the top??  The most likely explanation is again, to use it as a vantage point, looking for potential prey but who knows???

This highlights just why we do what we do.  Everyday out there is different.  Every sighting is different.  Behaviour changes.

So just when you think you know it all, be careful, that sighting might just be around the corner that will leave you feeling…  well… a little silly.


About the Author

Johan van Zyl


The opportunity of visiting some of the wildest, undisturbed areas and sharing my passion for wildlife, conservation and photography with like minded people is a privilege that I am forever grateful.

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