Watch a Wildebeest Make an Incredible Leap Over Two Lions to Escape Certain Death

Written by Sharon Parry
Updated: October 22, 2023
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Watch this wildebeest go! It could rival an Olympic athlete, but perhaps that is no surprise as this is a life-and-death situation. It has been pursued into a river by a pride of hungry lions and is now surrounded. Prides usually run ahead of their prey to cut them off, and that increases their chances of success. Now, the wildebeest has to come up with something spectacular to get away – and that is exactly what it does. As the video shows, these lions were not expecting this!

Watch the Amazing Clip Below

Why Are They Called Wildebeest?

Wildebeest in the wild

For wildebeest, there is safety in numbers and danger if they become isolated.

©Dr Ajay Kumar Singh/

Wildebeest are also called gnu and are antelopes in the Connochaetes genus. They are a native species of Eastern and Southern Africa. Their nickname is Wildebeest. This is derived from the Afrikaans for ‘wild beast’ prompted by their rather menacing appearance – pointed beard, sharp and curved horns, and shaggy mane.

There are more than one species of wildebeest. The black wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou) lives in South Africa, Swaziland, and Lesotho and is also called the white-tailed gnu. The blue wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) lives in Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. They are sometimes called the brindled gnu or white-bearded gnu.

To make things even more complicated, there are five subspecies of blue wildebeest, which are found in different geographical areas. These are the common wildebeest, the Nyassaland wildebeest, the Eastern white-bearded wildebeest, the Western white-bearded wildebeest, and the Cookson’s Wildebeest.

Which Animals Prey on Wildebeest?

Two male lions fighting over the rights to mate with a female

One of the fiercest predators of wildebeests is the mighty lion.

©Hennie Briedenhann/

Lions are not the only predators to be interested in wildebeest as a potential meal! As they are such a large animal, they provide a great source of meat protein in their ecosystems. Therefore, they are also targeted by hyenas, cheetahs, and wild dogs. 

Wildebeest live in large groups called herds, which contain up to 1,000 animals when they are gathered for migration. There is safety in numbers, and as long as the wildebeest can stay with other herd members, they are relatively safe. However, predators are quite good at isolating individuals, and this is when they become most vulnerable. Sick, injured, old, and very young wildebeest are also most vulnerable to attack.

To evade predators, wildebeest use their speed and athletic skills, as we see in the video!

Comparing the Size of a Wildebeest to a Lion

Animals in Movies

It is hard to believe that this little fellow will be over 500 pounds when fully grown.

©Robert Frashure/

Wildebeests and lions are both impressive animals, but they differ greatly in size. A wildebeest stands about 3.5 to 4.5 feet at the shoulder, is 6.5 to 7.5 feet long, and can weigh up to 300 pounds. By comparison, a lion stands at 3 to 4 feet at the shoulder, is 5.5 to 8.5 feet long, and can weigh up to 420 pounds.

In terms of birth size, a wildebeest calf will typically weigh 15 to 20 pounds, while a lion cub will weigh 3 to 4 pounds at birth. A wildebeest calf will stand at around 1.5 feet at the shoulder and be up to 4 feet in length. A lion cub, on the other hand, will stand at around 1 foot at the shoulder and be about 3 feet in length.

In conclusion, lions are heavier than wildebeests. At birth, wildebeests are much larger than lion cubs, but lions quickly grow to outweigh them.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Karl Weller/

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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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