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What Eats Elephants: All About Elephants Predators

Elephants are large mammals that live primarily in Africa and also have a presence in Asia. Currently, there are only three species of existing elephants: African forest elephant, African bush elephant, and Asian elephant.

There have been growing concerns about the existential threat that elephants face from predators, which has led to the immense dwindling of their population. This guide will highlight the predators of elephants and what animals eat them.

Do Elephants Have Predators?

Elephants do not have natural predators as they are one of the biggest mammals on land. However, they are not the most domineering animals, making them prey to several animals.

Certain predators, despite being small, actively target young and vulnerable animals. Crocodiles, lions, tigers, wild dogs, and hyenas are predators that occasionally hunt separate young elephants from the herd and eat them.

Elephant with baby

What Can Kill An Elephant?

Globally there are only 6 predators that can kill young and sick elephants. However, only one predator can fully kill an adult elephant.

Humans, due to the help of effective firearms, can kill healthy adult elephants. Hence, we are elephants’ biggest threats. See all the animals that can kill elephants:

  • Crocodiles
  • Lions
  • Hyenas
  • Tigers
  • Wild dogs
  • Humans

Is an Elephant a Predator or Prey?

Elephants are not predators because they are herbivores. They only eat plants and grasses and will never eat meat. On the other hand, young elephants are prey to very few animals.

Lions, hyenas, tigers, wild dogs, and crocodiles occasionally target very young elephants that they can dominate and crowd out.

Asian Elephant Predators

Tigers and crocodiles are the only animal predators of Asian elephants. They are the only animals that have been recorded to kill young elephants and dominate very sick adult elephants. Humans also kill Asian elephants for meat and tusk harvesting.

Predators of African Elephants

African elephants have several predators. Wild dogs, crocodiles, lions, hyenas, and humans are the major predator of African elephants. Apart from humans, none of these predators can kill an adult elephant, and some may lose their life attacking the African elephant

How Do Elephants Protect Themselves from Predators?

Elephants protect themselves by forming a strong social family group. Each group or herd is led by the oldest female elephant. The herd always attacks predators to protect vulnerable and young elephants. Predators often avoid elephants because of their herd style of attacking.

Also read: Why Do Elephants Hold Tails? Here Are 5 Reasons

Lion looking at elephant

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Lions Attack Elephants?

Lions occasionally attack elephants. They often target young or vulnerable adult elephants because they are easy to subdue. Lions are responsible for elephants’ attacks in the wild as they are one of the two apex predators willing to attack elephants.

Can a Lion Kill an Elephant?

Adult Lions can kill younger elephants. They also kill sick and weakened adult elephants. A single lion cannot kill an adult elephant. However, the pride of several male lions can take down an adult elephant and may succeed in killing it.

Are Lions Scared of Elephants?

Lions are very careful with elephants, so they prefer to hunt smaller animals. Adult lions are scared of attacking a herd as they could be trampled easily. They may sometimes attack a herd with several young elephants.

Can a Snake Eat an Elephant?

Snakes cannot eat elephants. There are no records of snakes, including huge pythons and Anacondas, ever eating elephants. The size and shape of elephants make it impossible for a snake to swallow them.

Can a Snake Kill an Elephant?

Black Mamba and King cobra are considered the two major snakes that can kill elephants with their venom. The toxicity of their venoms is considered lethal enough to kill an adult elephant within 4 to 15 hours.

Can a Black Mamba Kill an Elephant?

Theoretically, an adult black mamba has enough venom to kill an elephant. Black mamba venom can significantly weaken elephants and cause stroke before killing them. Young elephants are typically more likely to die from black mamba venoms than adult elephants.

Can a King Cobra Kill an Elephant?

King cobras’ venoms are believed to have a high amount of neurotoxin to take out an elephant. King cobras are the biggest cobras and possess enough venom toxicity to kill more than 20 adults. Younger elephants will die from a King cobra bite, while adult elephants may survive or eventually die after a few hours.

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