Watch a Lion Hunt the Largest Antelope You’ve Ever Seen

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Written by Kirstin Harrington

Updated: November 9, 2023

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Key Points:

  • Lions have an advantage when hunting at night because they have excellent night vision. They are six times more sensitive to light than humans.
  • The Eland is one of the biggest antelopes in the world, but it is also one of the slowest, only able to reach a maximum speed of 25 mph.
  • In the video, two lionesses are able to subdue an eland in broad daylight without too much effort.

Lion vs. Eland: A Classic Battle of Survival

Because they represent boldness, endurance, and force more than any other creature in the African wilderness, lions are one of the continent’s most famous animals. Lions are the laziest of the big cats, sleeping or relaxing for up to 20 hours per day. This behavior may be more necessary than it seems – lions have few sweat glands – so it is smart to conserve energy during the day and hunt in the cooler temperatures of the night. Hunting by night also allows them to take advantage of their incredible night vision. They can be observed napping in the shade or reclining on their backs with their feet raised. They are incredibly affectionate with one another while lounging, touching heads, licking, and purring. Mother lionesses can lounge together in the daytime while watching their cubs at play.

The Mighty Pride Always Prevails

Although lions may go up to four days without drinking, they will often drink water if it is accessible. Lions do require food each day. While adult male lions consume 16 pounds or more of meat daily, mature female lions only require about 11 pounds. They have been found to hunt rodents, birds, rabbits, lizards, and tortoises in addition to the larger herbivores like zebra, antelope, and buffalo. The majority of the pride hunters are lionesses.

lions

Lions are one of the main predators that elands fear in the wild.

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In southwest Kenya, close to the Tanzanian border, is the Maasai Mara National Reserve, a protected savannah wilderness. That’s where a pair of lionesses decided to hunt one of the biggest antelopes in the world, the Eland! The two visually are much smaller than the antelope, but that doesn’t stop them from taking a chance. 

Eland, the largest bovid in Africa, is also the slowest antelope. Its top speed is only around 40 kph (25 mph), yet it has a 3 m (10 ft) leap from standing still. The lack of speed is shown when the two lions easily attack the eland’s back legs. They drag the animal down by the rear legs, making it nearly impossible for it to fight back. 

A Naturally Skilled Hunter

The top comment on the footage says what we’re all thinking while watching the video. It reads, “That lioness is obviously a very skilled hunter and knew what she was doing, very impressive.”

Lions use ambushes to hunt. The smaller lionesses are known to herd the prey toward the center as they fan out and form a semicircle. Lions have a distinct edge when hunting at night since their vision is around six times more sensitive to light than that of humans. When a lion wants to approach a kill, it can exert incredible control because of its retractable claws, which may extend up to 1 ½ inches in length.

Unfortunately for the large antelope in this video, the lions have captured what’s about to be their dinner. They move from the back legs up to the eland’s face. There’s no denying that these animals are a natural food source for large predators like big cats and this is simply raw wildlife being captured on film. 

Is It Normal Behavior for Lions to Attack Elands?

Is it normal for lions to seemingly subdue an animal, even one the size of an eland, so easily? Yes, because lions are skilled hunters equipped with the strength and the teeth to do quick damage. The attack will be short – a fast rush and a leap – followed by an exertion of power to pull down the prey by the rump and kill it with a clamping bite on the throat or muzzle.

A female Lion ambushes a Wildebeest at a water hole in Tanzania, the Serengeti

Female lions do most of the hunting and are not shy about attacking a much larger animal.

©Karl Weller/Shutterstock.com

As far as size goes, elands are nine times heavier than lions. Elands are also strong, hearty animals. In spite of this fact, it is not unusual for a single lion to bring down an eland. In fact, lions are one of the main predators of elands, along with cheetahs, spotted hyenas, and African wild dogs. Typically, young elands are more vulnerable than adults to becoming prey for these predators, but all elands are fair game on the food chain.


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About the Author

Kirstin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering animals, news topics, fun places, and helpful tips. Kirstin has been writing on a variety of topics for over five years. She has her real estate license, along with an associates degree in another field. A resident of Minnesota, Kirstin treats her two cats (Spook and Finlay) like the children they are. She never misses an opportunity to explore a thrift store with a coffee in hand, especially if it’s a cold autumn day!

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