Watch Giants of the Grasslands Show Respect When a Lion Yields to Elephants

Written by Sharon Parry
Published: October 31, 2023
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With a stunning orange African sky as a backdrop, this spectacular video shows us a lion resting very close to a herd of elephants. Both species are looking very comfortable in each other’s company. The lion is reclining on a small mound and the elephants are eating vegetation close by. Is the relationship between lions and elephants always this harmonious?

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Do Lions Normally Hunt Elephants?

The relationship between lions and elephants is very dependent on size and numbers. Let’s consider a few different scenarios to illustrate this. A lone lion is never able to take on an entire herd of elephants. It looks as if the lion in this clip is outnumbered and that is why it is not interacting with the herbivores at all. Having said that, the situation is very different when it comes to a pride of lions. They have been known to prey successfully on baby elephants but only if they can get them away from the rest of the herd, particularly their mother. When food is very scarce, lions will attempt to take down a fully grown elephant but they are taking a huge risk. Adult elephants can seriously injure or even kill lions.

At the same time, these elephants are being very tolerant of the presence of the lion. It is, after all, a potential predator. Often, elephants charge through the African savanna trumpeting loudly to clear lions out of the way!

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What Do African Elephants Normally Eat?

african elephant vs asian elephant

African elephants are herbivores.

©LauraBerlin/Shutterstock.com

These elephants are preoccupied with nibbling some vegetation behind the lion. Elephants are herbivores and eat only plants. However, their diet includes more than 80 different plant species. The exact composition of their diet varies with season as this affects which plants are available. Savanna elephants eat mainly grasses, sedges, leaves, and shrubs. Forest elephants live mainly on leaves, fruits, branches, seeds, and bark.

Because their diet is so high in cellulose, elephants have a specialized digestive system that copes with this tough material. Their colon and expanded caecum contain protozoans and bacteria which help to break the cellulose down. Also, they have a long small intestine and their digestive rate is slow. It takes around 12 hours for the food to pass through the entire intestines and over 60 percent of it remains undigested. Elephants produce a lot of poop!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © kdangelo/Shutterstock.com


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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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