Watch a Crafty Elephant Expel a Hungry Lion by Dousing It With Water From Its Trunk

Written by Sharon Parry
Updated: April 27, 2023
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Key Points

  • Elephants and lions are none too fond of each other and elephant matriarchs can recognize the roars of their hated nemeses.
  • Male lions have a better chance at bringing down an elephant if it is weakened.
  • However, it is an undertaking they will usually attempt in pairs.

Finding a hiding lion at the well is always going to be a hazardous experience – unless you are an elephant of course! As the video at the bottom of this page shows, elephants have got very little patience with lions playing hide and seek!

Showdown at the Drinking Well!

The animals in this clip are two of the most iconic African species. At the beginning, the lioness is relaxing on her side by the well, simply chilling out next to some water. Suddenly, she hears an elephant approaching and is not sure what to do. The thirsty elephant trots towards the well, unaware that a lion is hiding on the other side. Meanwhile, the lion sits up and then creeps around the well so that she remains out of sight. Here she remains whilst the lion uses its trunk to pick up a few mouthfuls of water. At times the elephant seems hesitant, almost as if it knows that it is being watched. But thirst overcomes caution and it dips its trunk in for another drink.

Two male lions
Male lions stand a better chance against an elephant because they are larger than females

©Maryke Scheun/

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The lioness lets her guard down and takes her eyes off the elephant – moving her head very slightly. It’s enough for the elephant to notice and it is so startled that it does the first thing that comes to its mind which is to spray water at the big cat. Unimpressed by this sprinkling, the lioness runs away with the elephant in pursuit. These two amazing animals spend a few minutes ‘shouting’ at each other (actually the elephant is trumpeting and the lion roaring) and warning each other off until the encounter ends.

Do Lions and Elephants Get On?

Lions and elephants share geographic ranges and are inevitably going to come into contact with each other. So, how do these two magnificent animals feel about each other? Let’s look at how this works out in theory. Elephants are larger but the lion is faster and has greater bite power. The animals have equal defenses.

In practice, a lion is the only animal (except for humans) that stands a chance of bringing down an elephant. Also, male lions stand a much better chance than females because they are larger. You will notice how this lioness in this clip backs off very quickly. If male lions do take on an elephant, they often do it in pairs and target older or very young elephants. Older matriarch elephants can recognize a male lion roar and will usher her herd away from the danger!

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About the Author

Sharon has a Ph.D. in Public Health but has spent the last decade researching and writing about all things connected with animal health and well being. As a life-long animal lover, she now shares her family home with three rabbits, a Syrian hamster, and a very energetic Cocker Spaniel but in the past she has also been a Mom to Guinea Pigs and several cats!She has a passion for researching accurate and credible information about pets and reviewing products that make pet owners' lives a bit easier. When she isn't checking out new pet products she's trekking around the Welsh mountains and beaches with her dog - although she lets her husband and her three grown up daughters tag along sometimes if they are lucky!

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