Watch This Elephant Send a Lioness Packing With a Blast of Water

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Written by Trey Fox

Published: November 9, 2023

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Elephant trumpeting as he leaves the Chobe River in Botswana Africa
© Dennis W Donohue/

Key Points:

  • Elephants are incredibly territorial, especially around apex predators like lions.
  • As strong and brave as lions can be, they rarely attack a full-strength elephant.
  • Elephants are vigilant and will attack any active threats, including lions.

Elephants, one of nature’s greatest marvels, are a stunning sight to behold. Known for their large frames (weighing up to 12,000 pounds!), massive tusks, and iconic trunks, these majestic creatures are to be respected for their sheer power and ingenuity. Natives of Africa and Asia, elephants spend much of their time grazing in rainforests and plains. The video above illustrates that they can be quite territorial, especially around apex predators like lions.

In this video, the fearsome big cat was resting until an elephant appeared, looking for a refreshing drink of water at a well. The lioness was cautious, hiding behind the well once the elephant strolled up to it. She knew confronting a creature of this size on her own would be a risky proposition. Eventually, the elephant spotted her. It sent her packing with a blast of water and charged her briefly for good measure.

Is It Common for Elephants to Attack Lions?

Big tusker elephant that wonders across african savanna plains of the Kruger NP

Elephants are hypervigilant and protective, attacking any potential threats to their herd.

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©Johann Mader/

Given their lifestyle as herders in unified groups led by a matriarch, elephants are bound to cross paths with predators as they move around, graze, and look for watering holes to sustain their families. Unfortunately for them, herds attract predators. Fully grown, mature elephants are an intimidating presence across the wildlife landscape. While they don’t face many threats at their astounding size (outside of poachers) when they are healthy, elephant calves are another story. Predators like lions are calculating hunters who look for weaknesses among their targets, and young elephants fit these criteria. Rightfully protective of their young and the rest of the herd, elephants are vigilant and will attack any active threats, including lions.

How Often Do Lions Hunt Elephants?

African safari scene where a male lion with a full mane is looking at the camera and moving through long dry grass with a lioness and four cubs that are his pride. Botswana.

Lions are crafty hunters, looking for weaknesses to exploit in their chosen targets.


As strong and brave as lions can be, they’ll rarely attack a full-strength elephant — provided they are healthy and well-fed. Taking on a mature elephant typically requires the aid of a coordinated attack from the strongest members of the pride. Even so, an elephant’s tough, leathery skin and its sharp tusks are enough to make the strongest of us face life-threatening consequences. Luckily for the lone lioness in the above video, she decided it was a risk she wasn’t willing to take.

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About the Author

Trey Fox is a writer at A-Z Animals, primarily covering mammals, marine life, and geography. Trey has been writing professionally for 5 years and holds a Master’s Degree from Temple University, which he earned in 2021. A resident of New Jersey, Trey spends his free time watching Philadelphia sports, consuming animal documentaries, and covering independent music.

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