Hungry Lioness Chased Off By Hyenas But the Alpha Lion Comes Back to Regulate the Pack

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Written by Chris Madden

Updated: November 10, 2023

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© keith hudson/

Fierce Battle for the Carcass: Lioness vs. Hyena Pack

In the vast African savannah, a dramatic wildlife encounter unfolds before our eyes in the video below. The tranquility of a lone lioness is shattered as a large pack of hyenas encircles her, their numbers exceeding fifteen, snarling with anticipation around an old, partially eaten carcass. The tension in the air is palpable as the lioness recognizes the overwhelming odds against her.

Undeterred, she bravely roars and feints at any hyena that gets too close, reminding them of her formidable strength. However, realizing her vulnerability, she strategically retreats into the safety of the nearby bush, pursued relentlessly by several hyenas whose mocking laughter echoes across the plains. Walking out of the frame, the video seems to be a hyena victory by the halfway point.

A lioness, Panthera leo, runs with ears back and mouth open from spotted hyenas, Crocuta crocuta

A lioness runs for her life as 4 hyenas chase her down. If they were to catch the lioness, the hyenas would try to kill her.

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Just as the hyenas celebrate their apparent triumph, a new presence emerges from the right side of the camera. A calm male lion saunters over, fully aware of the opportunity that awaits him. Effortlessly, he reclaims the coveted carcass, causing the hyenas to scatter in disarray. The balance of power swiftly shifts, emphasizing the hierarchy and dominance within the African wilderness.

The victorious male lion, his regal demeanor unyielding, calmly enjoys the spoils of his triumph, symbolizing the relentless pursuit of survival in this unforgiving realm. This gripping battle reminds us of the unyielding struggle for survival and the ever-changing dynamics of the animal kingdom.

How Much Larger and Stronger is a Male Lion Than a Lioness?

Lion and Hyenas battle over a warthog kill.

A lone male lion fiercely guarded a warthog carcass from a large pack of hyenas. Undeterred by the odds, a male lion can overpower numerous hyenas at once.

©Mark Sheridan-Johnson/

Male lions are significantly larger and stronger than their female counterparts, the lionesses. With their majestic manes and robust physiques, male lions can weigh up to 50% more than lionesses, tipping the scales at an average of 420 pounds. Their muscular build and increased size provide them with a formidable advantage in confrontations and territorial disputes. The powerful forelimbs and strong jaws of male lions enable them to overpower prey with ease and defend their pride against rival males.

Their larger size also serves as a visual display of dominance, asserting their authority within the pride and intimidating potential adversaries. As seen in the video, simply walking toward a whole pack of hyenas will send them running. The very same pack was willing to challenge a lioness, so that should tell you all you need to know about the strength of male lions! While both male and female lions play critical roles in their social structure, the sheer physicality of male lions emphasizes their prominent position as the kings of the African savannah.

Are Hyenas and Lions Truly the Natural Rivals that Cartoons Have Led Us to Believe?

Male lion with two hyenas

These two apex predators compete for resources and territories in the




Hyenas and lions are indeed natural rivals, as portrayed in popular cartoons like Disney’s ‘The Lion King’. These two apex predators compete for resources and territories in the African savannah. Lions, with their strength, speed, and powerful jaws, pose a significant threat to hyenas. Conversely, hyenas are highly adaptive scavengers, possessing robust jaws and the ability to crack bones, making them formidable opponents. Both species often clash over carcasses, engaging in fierce battles. While the rivalry between hyenas and lions is not constant, their encounters can be intense and violent. Hyenas won’t miss an opportunity to attack lion cubs or sick/injured lions, and the hostility goes both directions. These clashes showcase the true nature of their relationship, reflecting the competitive dynamics of the animal kingdom rather than merely a fictionalized representation.

Is it Normal for Hyenas to Steal Lions Food?

hyenas preying on lions

Hyenas, in numbers, have a greater chance of killing a lion.


Hyenas and lions reside in the same areas and as a result, they compete for similar resources and not only hunt for but scavenge from the same animals. Therefore, they will quite often steal food from each other. Both lions and hyenas are also known to be scavengers and engage in the practice of kleptoparasitism, which is where predators will steal prey from each other and other species that are similar. This is a common habit among predators.

Hyenas are rather familiar with this practice and are highly intelligent. Their benefit is that they work in groups, using teamwork to often engage in stealing food from lionesses when they believe there are no male lions around. They are even known to kill their cubs, a practice referred to as infanticide.

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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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