What animals are Lions afraid of?
In Africa’s savanna ecosystem, Lions are considered the apex land predators.
They are also considered keystone species because they keep a balance in the food chain by helping to control the herbivore population.
In storybooks, you will often find authors calling lions the king of the jungle. If we see this from a scientific point of view, then it is very much clear that the lions’ due to their enormous strength and power do not fear other animals and can easily take them down, and this is why it’s known as the king of the jungle.
So, What animals are Lions afraid of? What do you think?
And, also due to their reputation of being the ‘chief’ predator and jungle king of their habitat, they often have enemies which they are sometimes afraid of.
These are the animals that have great strength in numbers like hyenas, wild dogs, etc. that can attack a lion in large groups.
Animals like cheetah, leopard, and baboons are deadly for lion cubs and are known to kill the cubs if they get a chance. Lions fear them considering the safety of their cubs.
Animals like the adult ones of elephants, giraffes, cape buffaloes, rhinoceros, crocodiles, etc. can easily take down a lion, however, the young ones are not deadly to the lions.
So, from the above answer, it is pretty much clear that lions do have many natural enemies which they don’t always fear at all times because lions are the apex land predators with enormous strength and power.
But, when due to the various ecological interactions like competition, and predation due to various causes like aggressive natural competition for food and territory, defense, and dominancy can cause various other animals like Leopards, Hyenas, African Wild Dogs, Cheetahs, and Baboons to cause danger to the lions.
Danger to the lions by their natural enemies can be like stealing and feeding on lion cubs, distracting feeding lions in order to make them abandon their kill, intruding inside the lion’s territory causing territorial conflicts, etc. These caused by their natural enemies can make the lions sometimes afraid.
Here is the list of 9 animals Lions are sometimes afraid of. Let’s Know:
Elephants are about 8 to 12 times larger and heavier than a lion. Meaning that if an adult male lion weighs about 310 kg on average then a female elephant can weigh anywhere between 2,700 and 3,600 kg.
In fact, elephants are the largest land animal on earth. They weigh like a heavy-loaded big truck.
Lions are nowhere in front of an adult elephant. Lions do fear elephants because they chase away a pride of lions that they encounter.
It’s easy for an adult elephant to forcibly kick or crush a lion so hard using its pillar-like legs. Their legs are really very powerful and provide strong support for their massive body.
Adult males are so much powerful that they can even take down 7 attacking lions in a large pride by charging and crushing them to death.
They can even stab the lion in its belly potion to death with its strong-powerful ivory tusks by lifting it with its trunk.
However, lions are well-known for preying upon elephant calves if they get separated from their family groups called herds.
However, in the wilderness of Africa, it has been also known that lions are the only predators powerful enough to kill an elephant.
At least 15 to 20 lionesses are required in order to take down an older-aged elephant, but still, the success rate is not guaranteed. However, a team of 10 to 15 male lions will be good to take down an older-aged elephant.
However, elephant calves are always an easy kill for a lion if the young ones get separated from the herd, which is not always usual.
Elephant calves weigh only 120 to 250 kgs and so are very easy kills for a lion. A single lion is just enough to kill an elephant calf.
Rhinoceros are really large and powerful animals and they can run at speeds of up to 32 miles per hour in a 100-meter short distance.
Rhinos are stronger and heavier than lions. White rhinos can weigh about 3500 kg as compared to a lion’s average weight of about 310 kg.
Lions fear white rhinos because they are bulkier and heavier as being the second-largest land mammal just after the elephants. While black rhinos are also quite dangerous to the lions.
Rhinoceros are known to take charge and chase after a lion if it feels being threatened. They do also use their sharp horns on their head to stab the lion to death or can make them highly injured.
It has been often reported in the wild that the rhino taking charge at the lion and attacking it flying into the air.
It is also not so easy for a lion to grab, bite, and tear off a rhinoceros skin in order to prey upon it. Rhino skin is very strong typically being anywhere between 1-5 centimeters thick and is made of an ultra-dense fibre. So, killing a rhino can be much more time-consuming, aggressive, and deadly to the lions.
But yes, lions are much more likely to attack and prey upon rhino calves if the cubs get separated far away from the mother.
Lions may also attack some weak, injured, and old rhino adults and prey upon them, as they are not able to defend themselves.
Adult hippos are also very stronger and powerful as compared to the lions. Hippos are well-known for their size, strength, and aggressiveness.
The hippo has all of the physical advantages over many lions at a time, as lions weigh around 310 kg as compared to the hippos weighing around 1800 to 2000 kgs.
Hippos are bulkier and heavier as compared to lions. They also have tough skin which is at least 5 to 10 cm thick making it almost bulletproof and as such it’s not so easy for a lion to bite and cut the hippo’s skin.
The hippo has a huge mouth that can open 150 degrees and is equipped with very sharp long canines that they use for defense.
The incisor teeth can reach about 40 cm, while the canines can reach 50 cm. Canines and incisors are used to fight and defend against other animals like lions.
They have a really enormous biting force measuring about 8,100 newtons, and it’s so powerful that a single bite can cut a 10-foot crocodile into half.
So yes, lions are afraid of large adult hippos and avoid them, but are known to attack the young hippos.
It’s very very rare to see lions successfully preying upon adult hippos until and unless the adult ones are old, weak, or injured enough to defend themselves from a lion attack.
4. Cape Buffaloes
Cape Buffaloes are also known as the African Buffaloes. They graze in the grasslands of Savannas found in Southern and East Africa. They are preyed upon by big cats like lions.
Adult Cape Buffaloes are stronger and more powerful than the lions. An adult can weigh anywhere between 425 to 870 kg with males being normally larger than females.
It is not so easy for a single lioness to take over an adult buffalo, however, a group of 6 to 7 lionesses can take down an adult buffalo but it will take a lot of hardship for them to do so.
And an adult male lion is just enough to take down a buffalo very easily within a matter of minutes.
Lions sometimes fear Cape Buffaloes because of their size and aggression. These buffaloes have horns that curve down and then up and in, and they can easily injure a lion by attacking it with the horns if it feels threatened.
They can attack the lion flying it into the air using its horns. And yes, Cape buffaloes are known to kill lions and lion cubs, if they feel there’s a danger to the herd.
They can even take charge and attack a lion if they find their herd mates being attacked by lions.
So, lions often prefer killing a buffalo calf, or a young buffalo, or weak old buffaloes by separating them from the herd and then making an easy kill.
5. Nile Crocodiles
Yes, we can say crocodiles as the king of the water, and in fact, they are the largest land-loving apex predator that hunts in the water.
They are native to freshwater habitats in Africa and do inhabit different types of aquatic environments such as lakes, rivers, swamps, and marshlands.
When in water they can take down any animal that comes to their range and capability like lions, cape buffaloes, leopards, etc.
Lions can’t do much to defend themselves from a Nile crocodile when in water, so lions better avoid swimming or crossing the river until and unless there’s an emergency to do so.
Yes, lions are not much afraid of crocodiles when they are near the banks as they know that they can easily handle crocs at the river bank.
However, when it is in the water, crocodiles will win the battle and so can easily prey upon a lion. There’s not much that a lion can do to defend itself when in water.
The heavy armor scales of a crocodile are its protection from lions’ bites. So, when there is more than one crocodile in the water then the chances are pretty high that a single lion can be bitten and preyed upon very easily.
Lions hate leopards when they see them entering inside or roaming nearby their territorial boundaries. They attack leopards to avoid the competition.
However, leopards are also known to steal and prey upon lion cubs. They do so when the mother is out for a hunt when they find the cubs all alone.
It has been also reported that leopards may also try to steal lions’ kill and take it up to the tree to feast upon it.
So, it is not always usual that a lion will fear a leopard, but in many instances like a mother may fear a leopard and protect her cubs by hiding them well from it.
Lions may also fear a leopard just in order to protect their kill from getting stolen by the leopard.
Lions are known to fight and kill leopards as lions are much stronger than leopards. But, there are some scenarios that may arise which may lead a lion to hide from a leopard.
Leopards are well-known for their ability to climb up the trees, while lions can’t climb so high as the leopard can.
So, in order to protect their kill from getting stolen and carried away up the tree by a leopard, they remain alert and fearful of a leopard’s stalky approach.
There’s a comparison between lion and leopard which I have written here in this article about Lion Vs. Leopard which you’ll find very interesting to read more about.
In reality, Cheetahs are nowhere in front of a lion. A lion can easily kill a cheetah, and so it is important to mention here that the Cheetahs adopt various strategies in order to deal with threats from top predators such as lions or hyenas.
However, mother lions do fear cheetahs because they steal and feed upon their cubs.
So, the mother lion always remains alert about the same and hides her cubs properly before she goes out for a kill.
Mother lion can kill a cheetah and is not fearful about the fight with it. But, the mother is fearful because the cheetah is a very clever and fast-running animal that can use several strategies to prey upon her cubs which she may need to encounter very well.
Lions and hyenas both hate each other, and the lions being more muscular, bigger, and aggressive attacks the hyenas and make them flee away.
An alone hyena is just nothing in front of a lion, but a group of hyenas is enough to make the lion flee away.
Hyenas when in groups try to harass and distract feeding lions to make them abandon their kill.
They are also known to distract them by taking scraps of meat and bones that the lion has killed.
So, stealing food is one of the biggest reasons why lions hate hyenas the most.
And yes, hyenas attack lions but only when they are in a group of at least 15 to 20 adult hyenas. A single hyena can in no way attack a lion as it is always at risk of being killed by the lion.
So yes, an alone lioness or a lion can fear a group of at least 15 to 20 adult hyenas. Hyenas in groups try to attack the lions when they are more in number by strategically surrounding lions from all sides.
This often leads the lions to flee away from the ground in fear, and later the hyenas dine over the lion’s prey.
Hyenas are very much dangerous for the lion cubs if there’s is no adult lion guarding them. Hyenas are also dangerous for a weak old lion as it is very prone to be attacked and killed by the hyenas.
Baboons have been seen to grasp lion cubs when they find one playing somewhere in front of the den while the mother lion isn’t there, and carry the cub up to the tree.
Baboons sneak peek at the moments of the cubs and the mother by sitting atop the trees, and they wait for the best chance to get their hands on the cubs when the lioness is not there.
A lion is just enough to kill an adult male baboon and prey upon it very easily if it can grab one into its powerful jaw.
However, it can be very hard for them to go and threaten a baboon group with more than 20 members, with at least 10 powerful adult males.
Baboons are known to fight back if there’s any upcoming risk to their mates and infants from big cat species like lions. They are ready to do or die during the fight with a lion to protect their troop.
So, it has been seen that many of the lions won’t opt to attack a baboon if it is with a large troop with at least 10 powerful adult males for protection, or else the lion may itself be severely injured by the baboons.
So yes, we can partially say that lions are scared of baboons with a large troop of at least 10 powerful adult baboons.
And, they won’t fear to attack if the baboon troop is considerably small as there will be very less risk and more preying chances.