Lions vs. Hyenas: When Hyenas Won’t Back Down from a Lion Pride

Lions vs. Hyenas: When Hyenas Won’t Back Down from a Lion Pride


These hyenas were not letting lionesses push them around when it came down to their meal.

In video taken in Kruger National Park, hyenas were eating a buffalo when a group of lions came in to snatch up the meal.

Despite their intimidating stance and roars, the hyenas refused to back down.

They chased the lions away and were able to enjoy their meal in peace.

Image: Megan Coughlin

Despite their reputation as pure scavengers, spotted hyenas are actually very skilled and methodical hunters. On the other hand, striped hyenas are more likely to be scavengers.

Spotted hyenas are much more likely to hunt than striped hyenas. They utilize all of their senses when hunting, most notably sight, hearing and smell. While they do not have a preference for certain prey,  more common prey includes wildebeest and and zebra. Buffalo and giraffes are actively avoided. So the buffalo in this video was most likely taken down by another animal or the lionesses. Spotted hyenas tend to go after either very young or very old members of a herd.

When in search of already dead animals, smell is the spotted hyenas most important weapon. They have been known to detect carcasses more then 6 miles away.

The dramatic scene took place at the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa.

Lions have the size and strength advantage, but hyenas have the smarts. Research shows that spotted hyenas outperform chimps in collaborative problem solving tasks. They also ‘speak’ to each other in different ways. Their whooping noise, signals intent or need to other hyenas. Like: ‘hey, we need reinforcements against these lions.’

Lion hyena fights sometimes go on for days. During one, in 1999, thirty five hyenas and six lions died during a two week encounter in the Ethiopian desert. Every night the animals went for each other in a viscous frenzy, before retreating into their dens during the day, to avoid the blistering sun. It was like First World War trench warfare with teeth and claws.