The African plains are big enough for both these apex predators to carve out territories. But sometimes they’re both after the same land, or just the same kill. And when they meet and start to fight, let Africa beware.
This incredible footage shows the epic encounter between lions and hungry hyenas – as the arch-enemies battle it to decide who gets the grub. In a scene that could be straight out of the Lion King, which famously shows the two predators as mortal enemies, the epic battle over a buffalo carcass sees the lions and hyena fighting to the death. In a shock move the gutsy hyenas leave the kings of the jungle cowering, managing to scare away the mighty lions as they flee up the nearest tree to safety.
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.