Elephant vs Lion: Who Would Win in a Fight?

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: March 3, 2023
© Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.com
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Two of the most iconic animals from Africa are the elephant and the lion. The lion is known as the King of the Jungle, and it is capable of hunting down just about anything it sees on the savannah. The elephant stands tall and lumbers across the same range as the lion, a pack-based herbivore. What happens when these two decide to stop being friendly and have a fight? We’re going to explore elephant vs lion and show you who emerges as the winner.

We will explore a wide variety of different physical and predatory aspects of these creatures and show you who would remain standing after a fierce battle. For the sake of accuracy, we’re going to pit the African Elephant against the lions because they battle in Africa from time to time.  

Comparing an Elephant and Lion

Elephant vs lion
Elephants are taller, heavier, and longer than lions, but the lions are highly effective predators.
ElephantLion
SizeWeight: 6,500lbs – 12,000lbs
Height: 7ft – 12ft at shoulder
Length: 18ft – 21ft
Weight: 264lbs – 550lbs
Height: 3.5ft – 4ft at shoulder
Length: 4.7 ft – 8.2ft
Speed and Movement Type– 9-25 mph
– Capable of charging
-35 mph normally, up to 50 mph at maximum
-Sprints to enemies
Bite Power and Teeth-Elephants have weak teeth and do not use them for defense.  -650 PSI bite power
-30 teeth including up to four, 4-inch canines
Senses– Great hearing
– Poor vision
– Can sniff out food miles away  
-Amazing sense of sight, especially night vision.
-Good sense of smell capable of smelling other lions’ markings.
-Great hearing allows them to hear prey miles away.
Defenses– Massive size and weight
– Tough skin
– Large size
– Lives in a pack
Offensive Capabilities– Tusks can impale enemies
–  Devastating stomping
– Can use head and trunk to tip prey – High animal intelligence
-Claws
-Paw strikes
-Biting
Predatory Behavior– Non-predator but will fiercely attack encroachers.
– Grazes for much of the day
-Primarily stalks and pounces on the opponent
-Uses groups to take down prey

The Key Factors in a Fight Between an Elephant and Lion

lion roar
The physical components and combat abilities are key factors in a fight between these two.

©iStock.com/3dan3

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When a lion meets an elephant in battle, the results will boil down to two major factors with several facets to them: physical components and battle capabilities. We have established seven different pieces of information within those categories that would decide the winner. Take a look at how each factor would impact the fight.

Physical Features

mother and baby elephant walking together
Elephants can weigh 12,000lbs and stand 21ft tall!

©iStock.com/saha_avijan

First, we have to look at the physical features exhibited by the lion and the elephant to determine the advantages each creature has when they’re in a battle. Size and speed have major impacts on a fight between two animals, but they’re not the only thing that matters when these creatures fight.  

Elephant vs Lion: Size

The size of two animals gives great insight into which creature would win a fight. The elephant can weigh up to 12,000 pounds, stands 12ft tall, and can be over 20ft long. The largest elephant ever recorded weighed 12 tons! Its vastness is hard to overrate compared to the lion.

The lion is large compared to other members of the cat family, weighing up to 500lbs, standing 4ft tall, and reaching over 8ft in length. The largest lion on record weighed “just” 827 pounds.

The elephant easily gains an advantage in terms of size.  

Elephant vs Lion: Speed and Movement

The lion runs with a galloping sprint, reaching speeds of 50mph for short times. This creature can catch most other creatures in its living area, including an elephant. Although elephants are fast in their own right, charging at 25 mph, they are no match for the speed of a lion.

The lion gets the speed advantage.

Elephant vs Lion: Bite Power and Teeth

Elephants don’t use their teeth defensively and their biting power is nothing special. They’re herbivores, after all. However, lions have a potent 650 PSI bite that digs their 4-inch canine teeth into their enemies, breaking bones and killing prey.

The lion has a clear advantage in terms of bite power.

Elephant vs Lion: Senses

Elephants do not have the fine-tuned senses of a predator. They can hear well and smell food from miles away, but they do not have great vision. That leaves them at risk for sneak attacks by their enemies.

Lions are apex predators that have amazing sight even at night, a good sense of smell that can sense other animals’ markings, and wonderful hearing that lets them seek prey from very far off.

Lions get the advantage in terms of senses.

Elephant vs Lion: Physical Defenses

Lions’ defenses include living in a pack, being a large animal, and having the aggression to attack animals  much larger than them. These defensive elements scare off a lot of creatures. Elephants’ defenses are based on their size, thick skin, and ability to run quickly.

 Both animals are very effective in terms of their physical defenses, so they get a tie.

Combat Skills

animals that eat their young: lion
Lions are expert ambushers that can see well at night and quietly attack.

©iStock.com/MaggyMeyer

Physical features can help an animal stay safe and provide them with the tools they need to fend off enemies. However, knowing how to use their physical features in combat can change the way a fight pans out. See how each of these animals approaches a fight.  

Elephant vs Lion: Offensive Capabilities

The lion is loaded for bear for battle. This mammal brings long teeth, strong jaws, sharp claws, and speed to the table, capable of laying low many animals. Elephants have long tusks and heavy stomps that can kill the creatures that threaten them.

The lion gets the advantage in terms of offensive capabilities.  

Elephant vs Lion: Predatory Behaviors

The elephant has no predatory behaviors, but it knows when danger is coming and acts accordingly. They do not hesitate to charge and head off enemies before they get too close.

Lions are amazing ambush predators that can seek and kill other animals at night. They are good at hiding their large bodies and know how to bring friends along to secure the kill.

The lion has the advantage in predator behaviors.

What Are Key Differences Between an Elephant and Lion?

Lions are smaller and lighter than elephants, but they are better hunters.

©iStock.com/jfoltyn

Elephants are herbivores and lions are carnivores. Elephants weigh over 10,000lbs whereas a lion only weighs 500lbs. An elephant is also taller and longer than lions, too. Lions have keener senses, though.

These differences have a profound impact on determining which of these creatures is going to win in a fight.  

Who Would Win in a Fight Between an Elephant and Lion?

elephants fighting
An elephant would win in a fight against a lion.

©iStock.com/AndreAnita

An elephant would win in an elephant vs lion fight. A single lion does not pose much of a threat to a fully grown elephant. The elephant is simply too large for the lion to handle. The only way it could win a fight is if it managed to bite and claw the elephant all over and make it bleed to death.

That’s not going to happen, though. An elephant will either flip a lion over and then stomp it to death or use a tusk (if available) to impale the large cat. A lion is large, but it can’t deal with 20 times its own weigh being pushed into its body by a rampaging beast.

Multiple lions can kill an elephant, or a large lion can kill a young elephant. However, there is no competition between an elephant and a lion in a one-on-one setting.

Animals That Could Take Down an Elephant

Due to its large size, an elephant makes a formidable opponent in a fight, even when up against a lion. However if an adult elephant is weakened due to old age or sickness of some sort, or the elephant is a baby or juvenile, the elephant can become a target for animals who may seize upon the opportunity to hunt and kill one of the African Big Five.

As mentioned above, a lion could take down a young elephant. An individual tiger and an individual crocodile could each likely be successful in killing one. Packs of hyenas and packs of wild dogs most probably would also be able to use their advantage of power in numbers against an elephant not at full strength or size.

These animals also may increase their chances of taking down an elephant by attacking females because of their smaller stature and shorter, less commanding tusks compared to males.


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About the Author

I've been a freelance writer since 2013, and I've written in a variety of niches such as managed service providers, animals, and retail distribution. I graduated from Rowan University in 2014. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games, reading, and writing for fun.

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