12 March 2024

We have released footage of an Asian badger climbing a tree –  the first time such behaviour from this little-studied species is believed to have been recorded by scientists.  

The badger was spotted shimmying up a tree in the mountains of Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea, through wildlife cameras placed by Chad R. Dobson, a wildlife photographer and naturalist, working with Joshua Elves-Powell, PhD researcher at our Institute of Zoology and UCL, to study wildlife in the area.

Peanut butter was placed part-way up a tree at the start of recording to attract local species to the area, but over the following 22 days at least one badger was recorded climbing its trunk on multiple occasions – even after the last morsel of nut butter had been licked off.  The fact that the badger consistently climbed above the height of the peanut butter – and over such a long period – indicates an inherent climbing ability in Asian badgers, adding to otherwise very limited knowledge about these charming yet poorly understood creatures. Although better known for their underground digging, some limited climbing behaviour has previously been seen in the closely related European badger.  

The findings are now published in Small Carnivore Conservation. Our researchers are working to better understand these enigmatic animals and the threats they face as part of the conservation organisation’s global work tackling unsustainable wildlife trade. Previous ZSL-led studies investigated the trade of Asian badgers in South Korea and its potential impact for wild populations.