Elephants are considered the largest land animals. According to scientists, adult African elephants can reach up to 3 meters tall and weigh anywhere between 4,000 – 7,500 kilograms. Asian elephants are slightly smaller: they can grow up to 2,7 meters and weigh something like 3,000 – 6,000 kilograms.
With dimensions as large as the aforementioned, one would think that elephants are completely safe from vicious predators, but that’s not the case. Although elephants have no natural predators, given their massive size, they aren’t exactly safe in the wild, nor in urban areas.
In places like India and Thailand, elephants are often considered sacred. Hindus worship an elephant headed god called Ganesh and, because of that, most people in India consider the elephant as a living incarnation of their beloved god, therefore elephants are considered sacred. This is one of the few reasons that prevent humans from hunting elephants in these territories.
There are, however, many other places where elephants aren’t considered sacred and there’s nothing holding predators and elephant hunters from attacking these big animals.
You might be wondering what animals could possibly attack and kill the largest land animal on the planet. In this article we’re going to show you 5 predators of elephants!
Unfortunately, humans, a top elephant predator, are responsible for many deaths among elephants. There are many hunters out there and most of them kill elephants solely for the “fun” of it, just like they kill many other wild animals. It is a sad truth, but it does happen.
There are a few reasons as to why humans hunt elephants: some like to hunt them in order to take “trophies” so they can display at home; others kill elephants to remove their tusks or obtain the ivory they produce so they can sell these things in illegal markets.
Sadly, elephant ivory and elephant tusks are really expensive, which makes greedy people kill these wild animals just for money.
If the topic at hand is ‘predators’, then we must certainly talk about the king of the jungle: the lion. This beautiful and frightening animal is pretty popular in modern culture, being featured in worldwide famous movies such as “The Lion King”.
Because they are such fierce predators, lions aren’t scared of trying to score an abundant meal such as an elephant. However, they don’t attack adult elephants; instead, they go for the youngest ones.
These elephant predators live in groups called “prides” and they also hunt in groups. Once it spots a prey, a lion will observe the victim attentively and stalk it before choosing the right moment to attack. When prey notice that they are being targeted, they panic and start running away. It is then that lions pick the weakest and/or slowest of the group of victims and attack this prey.
This hunting strategy works with elephants because it helps lions to isolate a single prey within a group so they can attack it, and young elephants that are left behind during a lion attack are the perfect victims.
Unlike lions, tigers are lone predators that hunt by themselves, and not in groups. However, hunting individually doesn’t mean that they are any less efficient than their fellow lions. In fact, tigers can hunt prey that are four to five times bigger than them, which makes them some of the most successful predators out there in the wild.
Although elephants aren’t typically part of a tiger’s diet, tigers do kill younger elephants, if they have the opportunity. Elephants are difficult prey due to several different reasons. First, they are the biggest land animals in the world, so this is probably all the protection they need. Second, they live in large groups and look out for each other. Third, they use their large and sharp tusks to fend away any disruptor of their peace.
Still, elephants get distracted sometimes and may not realize that a calf is being left behind. This is when the tiger makes it attack: when a vulnerable elephant has no one to look over it. Usually, tigers charge on their victims and jump on their backs before sinking their long canine teeth into the victim’s neck.
Although it seems highly unlikely — and it is pretty rare, indeed —, crocodiles do attack elephants and sometimes their attacks are successful.
There is footage of crocodiles trying to ambush adult elephants and attacking them by trying to bite on their trunks. But adult elephants are pretty large and aggressive, thus the crocodiles always back away and leave them alone in the end. However, there is also impressive footage that shows baby elephants being attacked by crocodiles and not surviving to tell the story!
These elephant predators usually lurk around in muddy waters and their attacks take place when prey are trying to cross a river. During these crossings, it’s possible that calves of elephants get left behind due to their smaller size, and this is when crocodiles put their plan in action. Once a baby elephant is dead, the crocodile will get chunks out of it, given that they can’t actually chew their food.
Despite being regarded mainly as scavengers — animals who eat dead animals —, hyenas are also predators, and pretty successful ones at that. In fact, hyenas are Africa’s most successful predators, according to scientists. They can even kill buffalo and baby elephants, whether they’re attacking in group or individually!
These predators of elephnats have strong jaws that allow them to shatter bones and there’s so much acid in their stomachs that the shards of bones break down. On top of being strong animals, hyenas are also pretty intelligent and they are highly organized within their groups, which helps their hunting strategies.
Once they spot a vulnerable baby elephant with no one around to protect it, hyenas will ambush the calf and eat it alive, chunk by chunk.
Although elephants are the largest terrestrial animals and live in large groups that are known for watching over the young and taking care of them, there are times when vicious predators manage to take down an elephant or two.
Usually, adult elephants are relatively safe, as no predator would try to attack an animal that is 3 meters tall and weighs around 6 tons (6,000 kilograms).
However, sometimes a baby elephant gets stuck in mud or gets sick and is abandoned by its parents. These younger elephants thus become the victim of predators such as lions and hyenas, who don’t spare their lives.
I hope that this article on elephant predators was helpful! If you are interested, visit the Animal Facts Page!