Lion Vs Hyena Smack Down: Difference Between Animal Species Revealed!

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Oct 27, 2023 By Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Originally Published on Nov 26, 2021
Spotted hyenas attacking a pride of lions.

Certain animals in the wild are known to be top predators.

Larger animals often have a larger claim on prey, while smaller predators choose to steal food from them in order to survive. The lion vs hyena debate has been going on for a long time.

Hyena clans are known to be the prey of big cats, including lions. There is a lot of competition between these two species. The relationship between spotted hyenas and African lions has been studied for a long time and is also one of the major areas of interest when it comes to understanding animal behavior.

When it comes to lions and hyenas, male lions help the lioness hunt, but the hunt is typically carried out by the lioness group. Once the prey is dead, hyena clans often venture near the carcasses of the dead animals in large numbers to steal the dead prey.

The power of a spotted hyena lies in their group, whereas when it comes to lions, their power lies in their size. Both groups, lions and hyenas, are notorious for stealing each other's food.

Lions can also identify hyena calls when it comes to food. Hyenas often show up in big numbers to intimidate the lions and steal their food.

This competition is also the result of many other factors. Researchers believed that if the two animals are provided with enough food, the rivalry may not be as fierce.

However, the was not the case because the issue between hyenas and lions is not just about food but also territory. Often lions and hyenas share the same territories.

This makes both the clans very aggressive towards each other, since their territories are very near to each other. Cubs entering hyena territories are killed and the same happens with hyenas that enter lion territories.

A famous incident in April 1999 shows the long-running rivalry between these two groups. There were frequent territorial conflicts in the savanna between lions and hyenas.

At the end of the dispute, which was a two week long fight, almost six lions and 35 dead hyenas were found in the reserve. Hyenas are opportunity hunters.

They aren't as picky when it comes to hunting and hunt everything they can. Stealing food from lions or other big cats is also another way that they find food to survive in Africa.

If you enjoyed this article, why not also discover more lion facts and find out what is a group of lions called?

What is a lion's habitat?

Lions and hyenas often share common territories, which means their habitats are often near one another. However, a lion is not scared of a single hyena but they are scared of lots of hyenas in a group. A lion is three times larger than a hyena and it can easily beat one hyena, but they cannot beat hyena groups.

The only reason why hyenas are successful in stealing food from lions is because of their numbers. An individual hyena is not stronger than an individual lion.

Both lions and hyenas are often found near each other in Africa, and their territories are often very close to each other. Both spotted hyenas and lions like to live in open woodlands and grasslands.

As they are apex predators, they also prefer a bush habitat with thick grass. This helps them to chase prey without the prey noticing. As lions are known to be one of the biggest and tallest cats in Africa, they can easily fight a few hyenas.

In Africa, lions and spotted hyenas also look for a specific kind of habitat such as grasslands because it attracts various animals with horns such as cows, bulls, and even plant-eating animals. This makes hunting easier.

How many hyenas can kill a lion?

Hyenas in general are not stronger than a lion. Spotted hyenas cannot kill a lion alone, they need to be in groups.

However, a single lioness or lion may be defeated by hyenas if they attack in groups. Hyenas are known for their appetite and they often hover around the carcasses that the lions have killed.

They usually communicate with one another through calls and quickly assemble near any carcasses they find. Almost 10-11 hyenas together can take down a female lion, a male lion will however need more. Almost 20 hyenas or more may be required to give a good fight to a big cat such as a lion.

Great Stand off Lion with Hyenas

Which has a longer lifespan, a lion or a hyena?

Carrion and territories are a few of the reasons why these two apex predators are always in a fight with one another.

Hyenas are smart, they also are well equipped with almost everything. Lions are known to hunt in the night due to their extraordinary night vision.

Hyenas also have incredible eyesight during the night and can also cover large distances on their feet. They have ears that can catch lion calls, and this makes them a few of the great thieves you can find in the jungle.

However, a hyena can only live for 12 years. A lion can live for almost 15 years in the wild. Lions have a longer lifespan than hyenas.

Which kills more animals- lions or hyenas?

Lions are stronger than hyenas. They are not afraid of hyenas, unless they are in large numbers. Hyenas are often found in open grasslands which is also the habitat of a lion.

Both these species are known to intimidate each other and steal each other's food. Although, a male lion is almost three times the size of a hyena and is way stronger than a single hyena.

They often make more kills, and hyenas survive by stealing food. Lions hunt their own food at night, meaning lions are known to kill more animals in the wild compared to hyenas.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Lion vs hyena smack down: difference between animal species revealed! then why not take a look at Ghost shrimp lifespan: fin-tastic freshwater fish facts revealed!, or Pistol shrimp vs mantis shrimp smack down: here's the winner!

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason

Bachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason picture

Adekunle Olanrewaju JasonBachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

With over 3+ years of professional experience, Olanrewaju is a certified SEO Specialist and Content Writer. He holds a BSc in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos. Throughout his dynamic career, Olanrewaju has successfully taken on various roles with startups and established organizations. He has served as a Technical Writer, Blogger, SEO Specialist, Social Media Manager, and Digital Marketing Manager. Known for his hardworking nature and insightful approach, Olanrewaju is dedicated to continuous learning and improvement.
Read full bio >