Huge Elephant Matriarch Charges At Lion Pride to Protect a Younger Elephant

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Written by Chris Madden

Published: December 13, 2023

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Elephant chases six lions away from tree
© nwdph/

Massive Protective Mother Charges Towards Lions in a Display of Defense!

The incredible video at the top of this page shows the moment a massive elephant barrels towards a lion pride! The video begins as the big mama comes into frame, stepping out into a dirt road. Following closely behind her is a much smaller elephant, likely her calf, but certainly in danger of the lions! Elephants are fiercely loyal and protective animals, using defensive strategies and showcasing deep bonds. And the mother elephant has no intention of doing anything differently, as she turns to look further down the road. What she sees immediately sends her into action!

elephant close up in a field

An elephant can reach up to 14,000 pounds, giving it a huge weight advantage over a lion. Taking into account that

elephants live

in herd of up to 20 and the fight is even less even.

©David Steele/

A pride of lions is lying in wait, strategically sitting on a dirt road as a potential ambush spot. But these lions likely didn’t expect a huge African elephant to come out of the bushes, and their composure is shot! Nearly as soon as the elephant turns to face the lions, it’s off and charging! The younger elephant is ready to go as well, and follows its huge role model down the road! The lion pride, with its own younglings in tow, are quick to their feet. They waste no time in analyzing the threat as a charging elephant calls for immediate action! The lion pride is sent packing, and the mother elephant slows down to a saunter. Considering it a job well done, the elephants turn back in the direction they were originally going and cross the road. 

The video then cuts to a later interaction between a lion pride and elephants, as elephants cautiously parade in the background of two lions. A regal male lion with a huge dark mane sits aside an equally regal lioness, while the herd of huge elephants stands behind them. Whether feigned or not, the lions exude an air of coolness while the elephants do their best to match it. With enough distance between the two species, both can assume they’re safe from the other, and relaxation can persist.

Do Lions Ever Get Lucky Trying to Hunt Enormous Elephants?

Lions occasionally target elephants, particularly the vulnerable calves in the wild. Such attacks are relatively infrequent because elephants are formidable adversaries. When lions do engage in this perilous pursuit, success rates are usually low. The colossal size and defensive instincts of elephants create formidable challenges for would-be predators. Additionally, elephants exhibit remarkable communal defense mechanisms. 

Lions and elephants often meet one another at the watering hole.

Lions and elephants often meet one another at the watering hole. Still, an attempted attack from lions unto elephants is rare, as success rates tend to be low.


Adult elephants group up to form protective circles around their calves during attacks. This strategic positioning serves as a deterrent. It makes it a suicide mission for lions to try to breach the formidable barrier of massive, protective adults. The calves, nestled securely at the center of the protective set-up, benefit from the deep-knit bonds shared between elephants. This coordinated defense highlights not only the strength, but also the intelligence of elephants. The way these magnificent creatures unify is so strong that not even the king of the jungle poses a real threat. And as seen in the video at the top of the page, lions know when to run from a fight!

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About the Author

Chris is a lifelong animal lover with a passion for writing and a natural tendency to explore the internet in pursuit of new wildlife and nature facts! He is completing his Bachelors in Political Science at Concordia University in the Spring of 2024 after a science-centric high school career. Aside from studying and writing for A-Z Animals, he has a budding music career and enjoy spending time outside year-round, from swimming to skiing!

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