Most people know that lions eat zebras. In fact, zebras comprise about 20% of all lion kills. In this video, we see a group of three lions who’ve taken down an adult zebra. One of the females and a young male wait patiently for the zebra to die while the other maintains her tight grip on the animal’s throat. Each time the zebra struggles in an attempt to free itself, the waiting pair helps to pin it down. About halfway through the video, a huge male lion approaches and stands over the soon-to-be kill. As the leader of the pride, he eats first. After a brutal three-minute battle, the zebra dies, and the lions presumably settle in to eat. Let’s find out what else lions eat before watching the video at the end!
What Do Lions Normally Eat?
As apex predators in their environment, lions eat pretty much anything they can catch. These big cats also eat anything they can steal from other predators. Lions are greedy about their food. They will sometimes hunt, even if they’ve already made a kill. That’s because lions go without food for several days on end, especially during the dry season. They eat as much as they can when they can. Zebras and wildebeest make up the largest portion of lion kills.
Lions eat zebras often, but they tend to choose carefully which of the wild horse-like creatures they hunt. One study researched the rates at which lions kill zebras. It determined that lions killed juvenile zebras more frequently between May and July than during any other time of the year. They also found lions kill more infant zebras (foals) between November and January. However, only about 15% of all zebra kills were foals (combining infants and juveniles). The study was unable to give a final say regarding why lions changed their killing habits throughout the year. Lastly, the study reported that the extinction of zebras would not bear significance to lions because they seek out other prey. On the other hand, lion extinction would cause a massive boom in zebra populations.
Unlike young zebras, lions eat wildebeest infants (calves) more frequently. This was confirmed in another study. Because an adult wildebeest weighs up to 600 pounds and protects itself with sharp horns, lions sometimes opt for the easier meal. However, wildebeest kills still tended toward adults at 79% versus 21% for calves. While lion prides do take down adult wildebeests, lone lions typically aim for the calves. It’s much easier for a pride of lions to take down larger prey over a single lion. Lions also targeted zebras 70% more often than wildebeest during the study period. Researchers recorded 140 zebra kills and only 98 wildebeest kills. Lions made only about half the number of kills either during winter versus summer.
What Do Lions Rarely Eat?
Lions rarely eat giraffes, rhinoceros, or hippopotamus due to their sheer size. However, should the opportunity present itself, they will go after the calves of these larger creatures. These kills involve much more work in separating the calf from the mother and the herd. Thus, hunting them proves amazingly more dangerous. One pride of lions, the Marsh Pride, is famous for hunting elephants due to their extreme living situation where food is unbelievably scarce.
Watch the Amazing Video Below as Lions Wait to Eat a Zebra!
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Rostislav Stach/Shutterstock.com
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