Watch This Lion Hold Off Over 15 Hyenas Trying to Steal a Bite of Its Lunch

Written by Sharon Parry
Updated: October 25, 2023
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The lions may have made this kill, but two other species are very interested in the carcass. A pack of hyenas is desperate to approach the carcass but the lion keeps chasing them away. The hyenas are reluctant to take him on, possibly because they can see that two other male lions are resting nearby. Interestingly, they cannot be bothered to get up to chase off the hyenas!

The other fascinating aspect of this behavior is that several jackals are approaching and eating the carcass. The lion does not seem to have a problem with this and he’s more interested in chasing off the hyenas. When the hyenas have gone, the lion even settles down and watches the jackals as they eat. Scroll down to see this full fascinating interaction between three scavenger species.

What Is a Scavenger Species?

Scavengers are animals that feed on carcasses that have been caught by another animal. You will find animals that scavenge from their species and some that scavenge from other species. A typical example of scavenging behavior is happening in this clip. The lions have probably caught the prey animal but that is not always the case. Lions are perfectly happy to scavenge carcasses from hyenas and other lions.

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The jackals in this clip look as if they are black-backed jackals who are perfectly capable of catching their prey. However, they are also commonly seen polishing off the remains of animals that lions and leopards have caught.

Male lion with two hyenas

Some male lions will take on a pack of hyenas.


What Do Lions Normally Eat?

Lions are carnivores and generalist hunters. Male lions, like the ones in this clip, hunt either alone, in pairs, or small groups. This allows them to bring down even large prey. Lions often rely on two or three key species in their ecosystems. This could be anything from zebra to impala or buffalo. They will supplement the larger kills with smaller animals including birds, reptiles, and even insects.

What Do Hyenas Normally Eat?

This lion is pretty full because he and his mates have already polished off most of the carcass. It looks as if only bones are left but that is not a problem for hyenas!

Hyenas will repeatedly return to dry carcasses and very often take over abandoned lion kills. They usually wait for the lions to move away but this pack of hyenas seems to be particularly impatient. They have very efficient digestive systems which allows them to break down every part of the carcass. That includes the skin, ligaments, horns, hair, and even bones! If anything is left after the hyenas have eaten this carcass it will be finished off by vultures.

Watch the Fascinating Interaction Below

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Mark Sheridan-Johnson/

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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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