Huge Mother Elephant Stands Tall to Defend Her Calf Against an Entire Pride of Lions

Written by Sharon Parry
Published: October 29, 2023
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The tiny elephant in this clip may look super cute to us but to a hungry lion pride, she is a potential meal. Smaller elephants struggle to keep up with the pace of the rest of the herd and can tend to get left behind. This puts them in a very vulnerable position when it comes to predators. Silently and patiently, the pride tracks the elephant herd waiting for the best moment to strike. Suddenly, things look hopeful for the lions as the mother elephant and her calf become separated from the herd. This would be the ideal time to strike – if it wasn’t for the mother! She has no intention of letting the lion pride get anywhere near her precious calf. In a frenzy of maternal defensive gestures, she fends off the lions as her calf cowers between her legs. In the end, the lions must admit defeat and move on to try to find another target.

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Which Animals Can Kill an Elephant?

Given their huge size and the fact that they live in groups, it is hardly surprising that there are very few animals that can kill an elephant. At the top of the list are lions. As we can see in this clip, prides of lions are formidable hunters. However, it’s clear that even lions only target very young, sick, or old elephants. Even then, they have to get past the other elephants to be successful! Crocodiles have also been seen targeting younger elephants when they approach the river to take a drink. If Nile crocodiles manage to bite off an elephant’s trunk, the animal will die because they cannot eat or drink properly.

Hyenas are extremely persistent and skilled hunters. There have been occasions where a pack of hyenas has managed to kill a baby elephant if they can get it away from its mother. The same is true of wild dogs who are opportunistic hunters and highly intelligent predators. Finally, the king cobra snake produces enough deadly venom to kill an elephant.

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How Do Elephants Fight off Predators

Elephant trumpeting as he leaves the Chobe River in Botswana Africa

Elephants trumpet to scare lions away.

©Dennis W Donohue/

The mother elephant in this clip is demonstrating classic defensive behavior. She turns towards the predators spreading her ears and stands up tall to make herself look larger. You can see her shaking, jerking, nodding her head, and swishing her trunk from side to side to try to push them away. You can also hear her trumpeting and making a threatening noise which she hopes will scare away the predators threatening her calf!

The photo featured at the top of this post is ©

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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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