Lions vs. Hyenas: Enemies of Africa

lion vs. hyena

Photo: jacobeukman via Getty Images

The lion in Africa is one of the most iconic animals on the continent. Known for their powerful physique and impressive hunting skills, these big cats are feared by many as the enemies of the African jungle. But there's another animal that lives in close proximity to lions - the hyena. These scavengers are infamous for their ruthless feeding habits, and they have a reputation as vicious predators. Despite their fearsome reputation, hyenas share quite a bit of common ground with lions. 

Because Hyenas and Lions are two predators whose living ranges heavily overlap, when disputes arise, it's usually in the hyena's favor since they have their clan as an edge. With a heart, double the size of a lion's, jaw pressure exceeding 1000 psi, stellar stamina, and intelligence rivaling primates, hyenas can fend off and hold their own against lions.

This "scavenging" idea attributed to hyenas is entirely true for lions. Lions are known to track hyena calls and use their overtly huge body to push the smaller hyenas around. That's the reason why hyenas, as herd hunters, use numbers as an edge. According to a study, some thousands of years ago, hyenas were known to prey on lions, kill them, and bring their carcass to their dens. An observer once spotted hyena social lifestyle and predation that 8 hyenas hunted a fully grown male lion for lunch.

Another set of observers discovered a good number of lions' partial skeletons in hyenas' dens in the late Pleistocene age. Moreover, many of the lion remains show evidence of being crunched by the hyenas. The observers found cracked-off lion skulls, lower jaws that expose a consistent breakage pattern, and nibbled limb bones.

The predating hyenas did not do anything unique when feasting on the lion – the damage pattern on the lion bones is comparable to that seen on rhinoceros, elephant, and horse bones, meaning that the hyenas didn't change their system for breaking down bones.

The many damaged lion bones found in hyena den sites prove that the lions were slain in fights with hyenas over dead bodies. The hyenas pulled apart the lion's bodies and returned some parts to their dens. On the other hand, the hyenas may have scavenged lions that died for different reasons.

Hyenas Don't Run Away from Male Lion

The king of the jungle is a highly overrated beast. In reality, the male lion sleeps 20 hours daily, waiting for lionesses to hunt and feast from their kills. 

It's not impressive for a 400–500lb fully-grown lion to take on a much lesser 140lb hyena and call it a fair battle. That's why it is not astonishing when a lion kills a hyena (1 on 1). When fighting lions, hyenas utilize pack collaboration and intelligence, which lions lack. 

Hyenas also utilize pure, 100% plushie potential. Besides the rabid nature, they actually look like huggable beasts. Gage Beasley's Hyena Soft Stuffed Plush Toy is a testament to that. See for yourself!



Gage Beasley's Hyena Soft Stuffed Plush Toy

Lions and Other Beasts Fear Hyenas

Not only the lion that is fearful of these much smaller predators. Other smaller animals also fear hyenas. What causes such fear in many animals, including the lions, is that hyenas often fight in packs. 

In an aggressive group attack, they outnumber the lions by a large margin and can shred them to pieces. Surprisingly, when a single hyena is noticed, there is a tendency that there are likely many more around. 

It is even more annoying for a lion that hyenas can always withstand a battle attack by a lion. Regardless, hyenas are highly fierce when it comes to defending their vicinity. 

A single wildcat, such as a lion, can effortlessly walk into his doom if unfortunate stomped into the hyenas' vicinity.

Communication between clan members improves a hyena's effectiveness, which helps them make a coordinated attack. Hyenas also have good communication skills, which they leverage among the clan members to help launch a coordinated attack. 

Differences Between a Hyena and a Lion

Lions are more significant, stronger, and slightly faster than hyenas. In comparison, hyenas have a more effective bite and senses that correspond to or slightly outperform lions. Both animals are predators that can hunt in groups, but lions often hunt solo or in lesser numbers. Hyenas will sometimes lose their food to lions who use their size and prides to disperse the hyenas. 

If lucky, lions will also use their sheer cuteness to stun the hyenas. That's if it's Gage Beasley's Full Size Lion Soft Stuffed Plush Toy! I mean, it can even stun real people. 

Gage Beasley's Full Size Lion Soft Stuffed Plush Toy

Lions are felines, while hyenas last shared ancestors with the wildcats some 30 million years ago. Those are some of the more notable differences between lions and hyenas. 

The Factors that Contribute to the Battle Between a Lion and a Hyena

Lions and hyenas are the two main predators of African wildlife. They are incredibly different in size, with lions being the larger of the two. Historically, these animals have had conflicting relationships with each other. Lions typically hunt large game such as antelopes or wildebeest. On the other hand, hyenas specialize in smaller prey such as rodents or small herbivores.

The fight between a hyena and a lion will be a ferocious flurry that begins and ends in no time. Some factors play a part in determining the conqueror of such a battle.

Fighting Skills of Lions vs. Hyenas

A lion's big and robust body is excellent, but such a feature can only benefit the jungle king if he knows how to fight. Let's dissect the fighting skills and predatory instincts of both lions and hyenas.

Lions have a lot of aggressive weapons as lone fighters. Their claws are sharp and long enough to rip open weaker animals. They also have enormous teeth, a strong bite, and the ability to extend their mouths wide enough to cover most prey's vital parts in the head and neck. On the other hand, hyenas primarily use their bite to inflict harm but leverage their speed to launch an attack.

Lions and hyenas are both predators. The wildcats are endurance predators in some cases and ambush predators in others. At times they team up with members of their group, and other times they hunt alone. They are very adaptable animals. Hyenas are essentially packing creatures that hunt similarly to wolves, utilizing their speed and perseverance to wear out enemies while attacking from many directions.

Conclusively, in a one-on-one fight between a lion and a hyena, the lion is most likely to have the hyena for lunch as the hyena would not have a chance. But it often wouldn't happen that way because hyenas move in a pack of members that outnumber the lion's pride, which usually gives them the advantage over lions. According to a previous study, in a pack vs. pride combat, both parties suffered a loss of lives and injuries, but there were about 6 times more dead hyenas than the lions.



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