Can A Lion Kill An Elephant? ???? vs ????

female lions feeding on a dead elephant carcass SUS9NQC scaled e1619468979537

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Even though elephants are one of the largest land mammals – they are still hunted and killed by lions. Some lions have actually become elephant specialists.

How Can A Lion Kill An Elephant?

adult lions feasting on a dead elephant carcass in BPHV9M8
Adult lions feasting on a dead elephant carcass in a game reserve.

Lions are great pack-hunters and often work extremely well together to hunt larger animals. They work together to identify and isolate a target animal – plan ahead for any danger (horns/kicks/bites) – then attack.

Elephants – although large – don’t really have any defensive mechanisms. If a lone elephant is found – or a young straggler spotted in a spread out herd – they are a likely target. However not all lions would even consider such a target – so it is location-based as to how safe they are in the presence of lions. Lions have hardly ever been seen attacking a large herd of elephants – and single lions wouldn’t stand a chance unless the elephant was already injured.

Prides of lions who hunt elephants do so in the same way as their normal hunts – they just need to be a bit braver and jump a bit higher.

As always, it’s a team effort: they have the lions who grab and bite the back legs and underbelly of the elephant – slowing it down and weakening it. Then they have the lion that jumps on their back and weighs them down further. Their teeth can’t break through most of the thick elephant hide, but they soon increase their numbers – pinning the elephant down – and then find a weak spot.

If the elephant doesn’t have enough strength to shake them off and keep moving – or doesn’t have any other elephant friends who come back to help out – it can be a slow and painful attack lasting hours. Even longer if the elephant fights back.

Do Tigers Kill Elephants?

a group of female lions feeding on a dead elephant GBN8C2H scaled e1619468966365
A group of female lions feeding on a dead elephant in a game reserve.

Similarly, with lions killing elephants in their home range; tigers also kill elephants in their home range. Both these large predators don’t usually target adult elephants in large herds, but will try for young or lone elephants if the chance arises.

Tigers are the largest living cat species – so if anyone is in with a chance of killing an elephant – the tiger is certainly in the running. However, it is all very strange because tigers usually hunt smaller prey. They are more solitary in nature so don’t need to catch a meal large enough to share.

As with lions, tigers have been found to attack and kill younger elephants – for their own safety – and to increase their chances of success. Also, it is believed that they have learned elephants are much easier prey to catch than their usual tactic of chasing agile deer through woods and waterways. Perhaps this is the start of a new feeding trend?

Asian Elephants (those living in tiger country) are slightly smaller than African Elephants – so perhaps this gives the solitary tigers a necessary advantage. Tigers also hunt in woodlands (rather than open savannah) so again – this gives them a better chance of creeping up on a single elephant.

Can a Ferret Kill a Snake Like a Lion Can Kill an Elephant?

In the realm of animals, ferrets and snakes: an unusual encounter. While a lion’s strength can overpower an elephant, a ferret’s chances against a snake are quite different. Ferrets lack the size and deadly weaponry of a lion, making it unlikely for them to kill a snake in the same way.

What Else Can Kill An Elephant?

There are very few animals – apart from man – who would actively try to kill an elephant.

There are videos online of attempts from crocodiles – usually seen grabbing elephants by their trunk while they are drinking from the edge of the water. They almost never succeed because the elephants fight back – very hard. Either they stamp out the crocodile themselves or a larger member of the herd steps in on their behalf. However, in deeper water, they are often less successful at defending younger elephants.

Packs of hyenas have also been known to bring down sick and injured elephants. Normally thought of as scavengers, there is more and more evidence being uncovered to show that hyenas are confident and capable pack hunters – bringing down all sorts of game themselves. They just always like a free meal too!

Hunting dogs have also been reported as hunting lone or injured elephants – not wanting to miss out on a huge meal. Working in a giant pack – these dogs usually chase down their prey over huge distances, so if they come across an easy target and it’s an elephant – it won’t put them off.

Other animals may accidentally kill an elephant – like in a buffalo stampede – but generally, these gentle giants have few things to worry about in life.

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