8 Animals That Can Kill An Elephant

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Published: October 15, 2021
Image Credit iStock.com/AndreAnita
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You have heard the phrase “A dosage so strong it could kill an elephant.” But is anything similarly true in the wild world of nature? It turns out, yes —when it comes to animals, there are some that can kill an elephant. Read on to learn more about the animals that can attack and defeat or even kill an elephant, each in their own special way. After all, it’s not a competition —just to be able to take down a trunked behemoth is brag-worthy enough.

#8: Lions

Lions are the number one natural enemy of elephants.


Lions are elephants’ number one natural enemy and another member of the Big Five. They move and hunt in packs. It is the lionesses that do most of the hunting for everyone, while the lions protect the pride. As a hunting pack, they have power in numbers against a solitary elephant. Though they can and do hunt on their own, they tend to do so with smaller prey. Lions’ main prey are zebras, buffalo, wildebeests, and giraffes. Although they can survive 14 days without food, they need to eat between 11 and 16 pounds of meat each day.

If lionesses decide to attack an elephant, they are most likely to do so as a pack and target the young, sick, or old, which are weaker and easier to defeat, or females, who have shorter tusks. A lion has enough strength to defeat a baby elephant on his own. Lions attack their prey by dragging them down from behind, rather than a frontal assault.

#7: Tigers

Tigers stealthily stalk their prey before attacking.

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Tigers, unlike some other predatory mammals, do not move or hunt in packs. Instead, they are solitary. When they hunt, they stealthily stalk their prey. They then pounce when they are close enough and the prey is far away enough from others of their kind. Hunting is done once every eight or nine days. When they eat meat, they need to eat about 18kg to last them until the next hunt. It makes sense as to why a tiger would seek to kill an elephant. However, due to the danger of being trampled to death, a tiger tends to go for the very young, sick, or old. As it does with other prey, it bites the elephant’s neck to kill it.

#6: Crocodiles

Crocodiles are more likely to attack an elephant when it lives close to the river.

iStock.com/Angel Gutierrez Sanjuan

Crocodile attacks on elephants are common when populations of elephants live near the river. The highly territorial saltwater and Nile crocodile species attack when anyone disturbs them, especially during the mating season. What is most likely to kill an elephant is the crocodile biting the elephant’s trunk off. The elephant may then die as a result of not being able to eat and drink properly, or even breathe. On the other hand, a crocodile is most likely to kill a baby elephant and is most successful in its watery turf.

#5: Rhinos

Rhinos and elephants tend to often fight over territory.

iStock.com/Alberto Carrera

The rhinoceros is another member of the Big Five, although it is not nearly as large or heavy as an elephant. However, it makes up for the difference between pure aggression and other traits. Because they often live in the same areas, they tend to fight over territory, with the elephant winning the most. An elephant weighs about six tons and is 12 feet tall, while the rhino weighs two tons and is six feet tall. On the other hand, it is also twice as fast as an elephant and is able to strike with its horn, which is sharp enough to penetrate an elephant’s thick, tough skin and deliver a blow serious enough to kill it.

#4: Hyenas

Hyenas either attack baby elephants or eat them alive.


Hyenas are much smaller and don’t have much in the way of armed attacks against elephants, so it’s easy to assume there’s no way these animals could attack, much less kill an elephant. But what they lack in size and killing power against large prey, they make up for in wits. As with defeating buffalo, hyenas attack in packs to kill baby elephants or can simply eat them alive. It is easiest to kill an elephant if it is stuck in a mud pit, or it is a baby elephant away from its mother.

#3: Wild dogs

Wild dogs surround a mother elephant so that she has no way out.

iStock.com/PK Visual Journeys

Wild dogs are about as capable as hyenas in being able to attack, defeat, and kill an elephant. However, they prefer to hunt in packs against a mother elephant giving birth or a baby elephant. They will surround the elephant as they would with other prey in order to attack them without the elephant having a way out.

#2: Other elephants

The mating season is a dangerous time for male elephants.


It is rare for an elephant to kill another elephant, but it can certainly be done. Mating season is a dangerous time for male elephants who become incredibly angry at each other and will fight to the death. They will even attack family members, including their own calves, while their hormones are out of control.

#1: Snakes

The venom of a king cobra is strong enough to kill an elephant.

iStock.com/Cavan Images

One might think a giant snake such as a reticulated python or anaconda would be likely to defeat an elephant, but that’s not true. Neither of them has the strength to kill elephants. This is when the king cobra comes in. It is not likely to waste its venom on offensively attacking animals that are not its prey, but it will bite anyone that disturbs its territory. In doing so, it releases venom that is enough to kill even a full-grown elephant. If it bites its tusk, which is where the skin is most thin, the elephant is sure to die.

As you can see, there are some different ways an animal can attack, defeat, or kill an elephant. Many ways involve packs of the same species coming together to take down an elephant, while others involve one-on-one battles resulting in a fatal attack or a deadly weapon. It is, in fact, life-threatening for the attacker. Being so hard and dangerous to observe, much less to hunt, is why the elephant is a member of the Big Five.

Next Up: 10 Most Beautiful Birds in the World

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