These Hyenas Risk Everything to Steal a Bite From Lions

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Written by Hannah Crawford

Published: January 24, 2024

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When we think of animals in the wild, it is easy for our minds to go to the land of Africa. With over 100,000 species of mammals, insects, fish, and birds, it is simple to think that there is plenty of food to be found for predators. However, there is a huge difference between finding and hunting down prey. In the video above, these hyenas thought it would be easier to just steal prey already caught by these lions. Don’t miss the action!

Hyenas Watching Lions Eat

The YouTube video captured at the top of this blog post comes to us from Africa. A small pride of lions is feasting on their prey. The Wildgirl Safari YouTube page posted this video on their platform to share it with their subscribers. The video has received more than 28,000 views in just a few weeks since it was shared. This channel provides videos of animals such as lions, hyenas, elephants, zebras, and buffalo. 

Lions Defend Prey Against Hyenas

At the beginning of the video, a safari tour has slowed down to capture the sight of this pride of lions devouring a zebra. Off in the distance, a group of hyenas eagerly wait to see if there is a moment that presents itself for them to come in and steal this prey. 

As the lions continue to dig their teeth into this mammal, the hyenas slowly inch their way forward. They are doing their best not to alarm the lions while they are feeding. According to the San Diego Zoo of Wildlife Alliance, “When competing for meat (there will be): Increased aggression at kill sites, “share food, but often grudgingly”, (and) weaker lions must persist in gaining their share of meat.”

Suddenly, at 1:50, one of the lions turned around, enough to send these hyenas scrambling backward until the lion turned back around again. They continue to press forward, hoping to grab hold of any part of the meat to take with them.

Are Hyenas Scared of Lions?

Hyenas versus lions

Hyenas weigh up to 200 pounds.

Hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) are fierce predators that reside in groups of sometimes up to 100 members. These bold animals are often labeled as opportunistic scavengers. They will take what they can get. So, in that sense, they aren’t picky eaters; they just want to eat. 

However, choosing to steal food from the king of the jungle is quite a different matter. Even with the numbers, these hyenas knew they were no match for lions. The fear of other predators, such as lions, can often be described as providing a “landscape of fear”. The National Library of Medicine shares that “Aggression by top predators can create a “landscape of fear” in which subordinate predators restrict their activity to low‐risk areas or times of day.” 

And at the end of the day, we see that these hyenas submitted to the lions. They will patiently wait for this small pride to get so full they leave, and the hyenas will get the bare bones. And yes, hyenas do eat bones. 

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About the Author

Hannah Crawford is a writer at A-Z Animals where she focuses on reptiles, mammals, and locations in Africa. Hannah has been researching and writing about animals and various countries for over eight years. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Communication\Performance Studies from Pensacola Christian College, which she earned in 2015. Hannah is a resident in Florida, and enjoys theatre, poetry, and growing her fish tank.

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