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Do Lions Eat Hyenas? Understanding Nature’s Food Chain

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Lions, known as the kings of the forest, are formidable predators at the top of the food chain. With their exceptional stealth and powerful jaws, they dominate their prey. While they are skilled hunters, other animals can still pose a threat to lions, especially when they are alone. Among these animals is the hyena.

In the grasslands of Kruger National Park, a lion was enjoying its meal when a group of hyenas interrupted it, as shown in the video below. Hyenas are notorious for their high-pitched laughter-like sounds, often referred to as a “cackle of hyenas” when they gather in groups.

The lion initially tried to frighten them away, but the scavengers persisted in surrounding it, attempting to intimidate it into abandoning its kill. However, the lion remained undeterred, continuing to feast despite the ongoing commotion.

As time passed, some of the hyenas became bolder and approached the lion. A few menacing stomps were all it took for the lion to drive them away. However, enduring the loud shrieks of many hyenas simultaneously can be challenging. So, the lion eventually stood up, took its meal in its mouth, and turned away from the noisy animals. Only then did the hyenas start feasting on the leftovers. has more information on this topic.

Do Lions Eat Hyenas?

Do lions eat hyenas

Surprisingly, lions do not usually eat hyenas. While both are considered top predators, the chances of them hunting each other are slim. Lions do not find hyenas very attractive as prey, as hyenas are also carnivores that feed on decomposing animal flesh. Although they may occasionally fight and kill each other, lions rarely consume the bodies of hyenas. The exception is an elderly or frail lion that may resort to eating a hyena during times of food scarcity.

Hyenas Are Not “Tasty and Healthy Meals”

Do lions eat hyenas? Since lions are carnivores, their diet mainly consists of herbivores, whose meat provides nutrition. However, hyenas have a less desirable diet that consists mostly of animal carcasses. They scavenge for meat, storing any surplus in watering holes for later consumption. Hyenas are known to eat almost anything, including decaying animal meat. While they also hunt herbivores and travel in packs like lionesses, hyenas still consume carrion whenever possible. This is why lions do not consider hyena meat appealing.

Herbivores Are Easier to Hunt

Do lions eat hyenas

Do lions eat hyenas? Unlike hyenas, herbivores like antelopes and zebras do not engage in combat. They have a natural tendency to flee, making it easier for lions to hunt them. On the contrary, hyenas rely on their numbers and group together for self-defense. They know that facing larger animals alone is impossible and that leaving the pack would be too dangerous. Hyenas also join forces to take down larger prey such as wildebeest, requiring at least six hyenas to subdue one. The number of hyenas needed doubles during feeding time.

Why Do Hyenas Sound Like They Are Always Laughing?

Do lions eat hyenas

While humans associate giggling with happiness, hyenas associate it with danger. Hyenas are known for their scavenging abilities and their laughter-like sounds that resemble human laughter. However, these noises do not indicate joy or amusement. Instead, they serve as warning signals to indicate danger and potential death. Hyenas also use these sounds to communicate with other hyenas, conveying various meanings such as hostility, submission, or social standing within their community.


In conclusion, although lions are powerful carnivorous predators, they do not frequently consider hyenas a reliable food source. Both lions and hyenas are apex predators in their respective habitats, often competing for resources and territory rather than regularly preying on each other. However, there have been reports of lions eating hyenas, especially during times of food scarcity or territorial disputes.

These interactions highlight the intricate and dynamic relationships within the animal kingdom, where survival and resource acquisition govern interactions between different species. Ultimately, whether lions eat hyenas depends on various factors, including the availability of other prey and the specifics of their habitats.


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