Lion Takes on 40 Hyenas and Still Wins the Battle

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Written by Sharon Parry

Published: November 17, 2023

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male lion and hyenas
© AfricaWildlife/

There aren’t many animals that can take on 40 hyenas and get the better of them! But a large male lion is one of those animals. This extraordinary clip shows a male tackling an entire clan of hyenas. It looks like he has made a kill, and the pesky hyenas are trying to steal it from him. This was a big mistake! The hyenas assumed there were enough of them to overpower the lion, and one of them nearly paid for that error with their life. Right at the end of the clip, it looks as if they have all gotten out of this situation alive – but hopefully, they have learned from the experience!

Is This How Hyenas Normally Behave?

Hyenas are highly sociable creatures who live in female-dominated groups called clans or cackles. The latter name presumably comes from the noise you hear the hyenas making in this clip. Even though their social units are stable, some hyenas choose to spend time away from their clan. Within the clan are multi-generational females and immigrant males who stay for several years.

There is a clear social hierarchy within the group. Females dominate the males, and females with the most reproductive success are in charge. Being a mother makes you a boss when you are a hyena!

It’s also normal for hyenas to make this level of noise. Hyenas vocalize when they are on their own or part of a group. It serves several functions, including showing their identity, asking for support, or defending their den or a food resource.

What Do Hyenas Normally Eat?

Group of feeding hyenas

Hyenas eat the entire animal, including bones.

©Jez Bennett/

Hyenas are carnivores who hunt their prey or scavenge prey from other animals. Even though hyenas have a reputation as scavengers, they are skilled hunters in their own right. Hyena clans can work together to hunt animals that are much larger than they are. This includes buffalos and giraffes, targeting only young, pregnant, or injured larger animals. They take full advantage of the seasonal migration of some species, such as wildebeest. Hyena clans will also target small mammals such as scrub hare, baboons, and patas monkeys. Rarely, they will eat tortoises and snakes, birds, fish, and even termites and earthworms.

They opportunistically scavenge carcasses. This means they steal kills from other predators or wait for the kills to be abandoned and then take it over. Hyenas are highly efficient eaters and consume all carcasses, including bones and hair!

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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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