Fed Up Buffalo Takes Charge and Sprints Directly into a Lion’s Den and Walks Away Unharmed

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Written by Sharon Parry

Updated: November 10, 2023

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buffalo with two white egrets on the neck,Chobe,Botswana
© Karel Gallas/Shutterstock.com

Filmed at the stunning Ngorongoro Crater in Northern Tanzania, this clip captures the moment when a buffalo makes it quite clear that he has no patience with large felines! There are several lions in the vicinity of the herd, but it is quite difficult to see them because they are so well camouflaged amongst the long grass. The buffaloes, however, are very aware of their presence. One charges towards the lions on several occasions and drives them away from the herd and calves.

Do Lions Normally Hunt Buffalo?

Lions are obligate carnivores and therefore meat is very important to them! They do not, however, rely on a single prey species and are capable of hunting a wide range of animals. A lion’s diet can include large and smaller mammals, reptiles, fish, and insects. Buffalo would fall into the ‘large mammal’ category but not all lions can catch them.

The general picture is that lions would target sick, injured, or elderly buffaloes that have become isolated from the rest of the herd. These targets are much easier to catch and the same is true for buffalo calves.

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Fit, adult buffaloes are a completely different situation. Most female lions are simply not big or heavy enough to bring one of these down on her own. Even when several lionesses work as a team, they are taking a considerable risk. Male lions have the bulk to drag a buffalo to the ground but several males working together would have the best chance of success. Even then, the rest of the buffalo herd turning up creates a very real problem for the lions!

Three male lion feed on Cape buffalo

A group of male lions stand the best chance of bringing down a fit, adult buffalo.


Can a Buffalo Hurt a Lion?

Yes, there are many records of lions being badly injured and killed by a buffalo. As you can see from this clip, these large herbivores are simply not scared of lions and will hold their ground. It is often the lion that backs away!

Buffaloes have a knack for scooping up lions with their horns using their powerful neck muscles. Then, they can hurl the lion into the air. This in itself can cause severe injuries. However, if the lion is then trampled on, the outcome is often fatal. It’s no wonder that these lions were showing the buffalo a lot of respect!

Is This Normal Behavior?

Parts of this video show a pretty common exchange between buffalo and predators, such as lions. When it comes to defending their herd and their family, buffalo and similar herd animals may decide to stand strong and hold a defensive position against would-be attackers, as is seen in the video above. In other instances, the herd could run away to try to avoid the threats.

However, the way the aggressive buffalo turns and goes after the lions is fairly extraordinary! It makes you wonder how long they had been harassed by the felines causing the angry bovine to throw caution to the wind and go after them. This individual not only shooed the lions away it ran right into the middle of a lot of them seemingly not to care!

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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