Amazing Footage Of Lioness Trying To Take Down Elephant
Most big cats tend to be quite opportunistic when it comes to hunting, but some cats are in fact more ambitious than others. Recently Samuel Chevallier managed to capture dramatic footage in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. Mr Chevallier and his posse came across a lioness and her cubs basking in the early morning sun. The group watched for a few minutes whilst the cubs were playing with each other and then noticed their mother suddenly become active. The lioness gathered her cubs and slinked into the undergrowth.
Mr Chevallier’s group anticipated there would be action so followed the lioness and a short while after she disappeared into a thicket, they heard the sound of an elephant in distress. When they came across the scene, the ambitious lioness was already on top of the elephant doing her very best to take down the massive prey. In general lions do not hunt elephants but their calves are fair game if they end up straying too far from the herd’s protection. The group found that the lioness had clawed on to the elephant’s thick skin and was hanging on as the elephant sought to fight it off. The calf finally managed to shake the lioness off and charged after her to ensure she fled.
Whilst all of that was taking place, the cubs were lying in wait in the tall grass watching as their mother attempted to find a meal for them. However, following the unsuccessful attack, the mother collected her cubs and headed away fortunately completely unscathed. There are records of lions preying on elephants but they are relatively rare so we do not know how often lions target elephants. It is highly likely that calves that end up straying from the herd do fall victim to the predators.
Wounded or ill
It is also possible that some elephants are wounded or ill and this results in a lion attack. This is probably what happened in this case. The young elephant seemed to have been separated from its herd and also appeared to be nursing an injury before the attack. However, Mr Chevallier said he could not confirm this because his group only managed to catch up to the lioness after she had mounted the elephant. Injured or calves that have been weakened by drought are at much higher risk from predatory lions, but for the most part, elephants are safe from attack.
The Savuti lion pride
There is one pride in Botswana that does make a habit of hunting elephants. The 30-strong Savuti lion pride is well known by film-makers and photographers as being expert elephant hunters. Reports of elephant take downs date back to the 1970’s, but it is only in the last few decades this pride has earned a reputation for its unique hunting abilities. There were 74 recorded kills by this pride between 1993 and 1996 and in 2006 a film crew from the BBC managed to film the big cats in action.
It is extremely risky for lions to hunt elephants and under normal circumstances, the big cats would most likely opt to hunt for a more manageable species of prey. In the case of the Savuti pride, annual migrations resulted in their typical prey numbers falling with many animals leaving the area. The only species remaining in the pride territory was a population of elephants forcing the big cats to expand their hunting skills. The footage of the hunt is available to watch on YouTube, but it is grizzly so we decided not to post to it but here is the link.