WHAT ANIMALS EAT ELEPHANTS?

Written by: Akeem Eletu
Last updated on:

Elephants are arguably one of the strongest animals on earth. They are thought to be invincible because of their size. These trunked beasts have formidable body shapes and almost always walk in groups. 

They are so massive that they do not have natural predators. So it is hard to imagine what animal would be crazy enough to consider elephants for lunch.

But the truth is some animals are daring and hungry enough to hunt elephants for a meal. Read on to find out what animals eat elephants.

WHAT ANIMALS EAT ELEPHANTS?

There are hardly any natural predators, but these animals listed below will always be on any animal list that eats elephants.

TIGERS

These giant cats are daring, and the elephant is never going off of the menu for them. Tigers go with their usual method of killing prey which is biting continuously into the neck until it kills the elephant. They typically sink their teeth into the elephant’s neck, as they would with any other prey. 

While they are less likely to attack adult elephants, it is their habit to sneak up to a much younger elephant while it has strolled off from the protection of the herd. They attack the younger elephant and inflict fatal injuries on the animal. 

But they are always wary of the elephants when hunting. They fear being trampled on by the herd, so they avoid this danger by going for the younger ones.

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HYENAS

Hyenas are a great deal smaller animals than elephants, but they pose threats to these large animals. They are opportunistic eaters and will waste no time attacking an injured or a sick elephant. They will also attack baby elephants for a feast, although their efforts are likely to be thwarted by the other members of the herd. 

However, they will attack the baby elephants when they are sure that the mother is far away or when they are stuck in a mud pit. Although they are mostly thought of as opportunist eaters, they are efficient at hunting, too, and they hunt in packs.

LIONS

While lions may not be the king of the jungle, they are one of the best-skilled hunters in the jungle. Although lions can survive without eating for up to half a month, they are supposed to eat between 11-16 pounds of meat every day. 

Elephants more than suffice for this quantity of meat. Lions hunt and move in packs, putting a solitary elephant at a disadvantage. The lioness is usually in charge of hunting and providing food for the family while the lions protect the pride of the pack. 

This doesn’t mean lions don’t or can’t hunt on their own. A lioness usually attacks an elephant in a pack while preying on young, sick, old, or weaker elephants. They also attack female elephants because they have shorter tusks.

It takes about one or two males to bring down a solitary lion, but it takes a pack of lionesses to hunt a solitary male elephant. Lions usually attack their prey by dragging them, rather than launching a frontal attack.

CROCODILES

Crocodiles are definitely on any list of what animals eat elephants. Crocodiles are opportunistic hunters that prey on baby elephants. They attack the group of elephants that decide to relax by the riverside.

The aim of the crocodile is to have the elephants fatally injured. Crocodiles don’t have the absolute power to kill mature elephants like lions and tigers; instead, they inflict serious injuries that eventually lead to death.

They attack elephants by biting off elephants’ trunks. This affects the ability of the elephants to eat well, drink water, or even breathe well. Crocodiles may eat younger or sick elephants.

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WILD DOGS

Wild dogs are another set of animals that eat elephants, but only the baby elephant is on their menu. They prefer to hunt and attack as a pack. Their strategy is to surround an elephant, giving it no way to escape, and then attack until it is dead. They always hunt in packs of about 20 or more since they are smaller animals. 

They are cunning and very intelligent when it comes to hunting. Their diet usually consists of smaller animals like antelopes, bull calves, and warthogs, so a baby elephant is not much of a big deal for a hunt.

HUMANS EAT ELEPHANTS

It is a widespread practice in Asia for humans to eat rare types of meat, and elephants are no exception. 

While elephants are poached and captured from the forest for illegal wildlife trade, Asian elephants are hunted for more than their tusks or skin. Asian people eat meat, and humans are by far the most effective elephant hunters. They hunt elephants regardless of their size.

RESPONSE TO PREDATORS

Usually, when a predator or a group of predators are within the range of a possible attack, the older females surround the herd to create a protective wall circling the young and weak. You will find that females usually lead the herd since males are typically solitary, only joining the herd during mating seasons and a few other occasions.

Predators hardly ever attack grown and healthy elephants, as the chances of a successful hunt are almost impossible. However, when an unwary and unlucky member of the herd falls victim to the cunning hunting strategy of the elephant, it is typical of the herd to attack the predators.

Elephants are perhaps one of the few animals with a remarkable emotionally protective bond. They are so protective of the herd that they sometimes guard the carcasses of a fallen herd member for a while after a predator has taken it down.

SUMMING UP

As mentioned above, no animal in its right mind will go out to hunt down an elephant for food. They hardly have any natural predators, and their size is one conspicuous reason for that. 

But other animals still hunt them sometimes. From opportunistic eaters to predators taking advantage of an elephant in its weak state, it takes some measure of cunning or bravado to accomplish a feat this risky.

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