Lion Predators: What Eats Lions?

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley
Updated: October 13, 2022
© Peter Betts/Shutterstock.com
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The lion is a large, fearsome cat of the Panthera genus, typical to Africa and India. It has a muscular, deep-chested body, a short round head, round ears, and a hairy tuft at the end of its tail. Lions are a social species that form a pack, and fascinatingly, they are most active at night and live in different natural environments. Although they comfortably live in different habitats, they opt for grasslands, savanna, dense shrubs, and open forests most of the time.

It is fair when we say that the lion’s physique symbolizes both strength and courage to many, so by default, no other phrase better qualifies it than “the king of the jungle.”  The lion’s might, fearlessness, and fierceness are second to none compared to other animals in the jungle, and it is scaringly a living threat to both humans and smaller animals. However, despite being the most dominant predator in the wilderness, it is surprising to know that some animals eat lions. 

What Eats Lions? 

How Long Do Lions Live
Hyenas, crocodiles, and leopards eat lion cubs.

©Stephanie Periquet/Shutterstock.com

Humans, hyenas, crocodiles, leopards, cheetahs, and wild dogs will compete with lions to eat their prey and hunt and eat lion cubs. Unfortunately for these feral cats, the African habitat they have made home has spawned a variety of dangerous creatures in their path. Some of their predators are often willing to go up against them, either in self-defense or by marking their territories. See below the list of animals that kill lions:

Surprising as it seems, no animal successfully hunts and eats lions, except for their cubs. They are the king of the jungle after all! The constant battles between lions and other predators are majorly for survival. In other words, food and territory marks are essentially the main reasons for these animals’ wild conflict. However, this tumultuous conflict does not make these predators invincible to lions; they only go after their cubs.

Lion Predators: Hyenas

Hyena Teeth- Hyena
Hyenas prey on lion cubs and are known to eat dead lions.

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Hyenas are the most common large carnivores in Africa. They come in spotted and non-spotted shades and are often scavengers. They have relatively short torsos with a reasonably large physique, a low back, and a diagonal back.

Hyenas are one of lions’ worst enemies. Although hyenas eat dead lions, they often go after lion cubs since adult lions are more difficult for them to kill. 

For a fact, it takes about ten hyenas to take down a lioness conveniently, and the number doubles up with a male lion.

Lion Predators: Buffalo

Aggressive Animal: African buffalo
Buffaloes have been recorded killing lions.

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Buffaloes are big-sized animals, and they have been recorded trampling and killing several of their victims. African buffalo are regarded as the most dangerous amongst other species in the African continent. They often defend themselves and kill lions and other animals that pose a threat.

The buffalo’s strength is so great that the likelihood of winning one-on-one combat with an adult lion is 100% certain. The reason for this is because of the weight discrepancies in both animals. An average adult lion weighs 400-500 pounds, while an average buffalo weighs 1800-2500 pounds. Although a lion can overcome an adult buffalo by firmly biting the throat/trachea, it can only achieve this by knocking it to the ground. The massive weight of the buffalo is so great that it only takes the pride of the lion to overwhelm it. Nevertheless, the buffalo can still escape amid several lions.

Lion Predators: Leopards

Strongest cats - Leopard
The Leopard is one of the strongest wild cats in terms of climbing ability.

©Michael Wick/Shutterstock.com

Leopards are solitary. Interestingly, they are not picky eaters, but they are ambush predators. Leopards are the smallest, stealth predators. They are prominent climbing cats compared with other big jungle cats. They are quiet, opportunistic hunters who only hunt and kill other animals to survive. When they hunt, they do so in secret. Leopards are superbly camouflaged hunters, sneaking up within a few yards of unprotected prey and providing deadly grips with strong jaw muscles. Leopards don’t readily hunt lions, but they can pick on a cub in extreme situations.

Lion Predators: Crocodiles

Animals With the Toughest Skin-crocodile
Underwater, lions are no match for crocodiles.

©Audrey Snider-Bell/Shutterstock.com

Crocodiles are giant aquatic ambush reptiles in Africa, Asia, the United States, and Australia. Their most successful attacks on lions occur underwater, where crocodiles can steer them very quickly. Crocs are strong swimmers, and a single bite from a crocodile’s powerful jaw can pull an unsuspecting lion underwater. They surprisingly submerge their prey and kill them until they drown. A quick way they get their lion prey is in the cool of the evening when the lions get exhausted and are ready to take a lap from the shallow waters. The crocodile carefully watches and awaits the right time to launch an attack. After catching the prey, it drags the victim into the deep sea, drowning the animal and finishing the job. Although all animals can swim (including lions), lions are no match for crocodiles underneath the water.

Lion Predators: Rhinoceros

Rhinoceros are ancient animals with massive body structures and intriguingly a potential threat for lions. Lions are known to prey on black rhinos, but attempts to catch adult rhinos are rare unless with teamwork from the pride of lions. 

Lion Predators: Porcupine

Porcupines may appear harmless, but historically, they kill lions, leopards, and hyenas. They successfully kill their prey when spikes penetrate the heart or major arteries. These characteristic spikes are released as a defense mechanism to cause nasty wounds and ultimately fatal infections to predators. 

Lion Predators: Hippopotamus

The hippopotamus can be dangerous with its colossal weight, largemouth, strong jaws, and sturdy canines. It has the most muscular jaw of herbivores and can open its mouth 180 degrees. Hippos can be very aggressive when defending themselves from predators. However, they can become prey to lions rather than predators when they are attacked by a group of lions.

Lion Predators: Humans

Although killing and eating lions in the United States is not a crime, only a certain percentage of humans have successfully eaten them. For a known fact, hunting lions can be a tedious task, given that most of them are acquired for zoo keeps and games. Nevertheless, certain humans eat lions.

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The Featured Image

How Long Do Lions Live - old lion
An old lion surveys his territory. Females lions live longer than males, as they are used to hunting in groups.
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