What Do Lions Eat

Lions are king of the jungle for more than one reason. Their varied diet is one of the best in the big cat kingdom, because with their hunting range, they enjoy a wide variety of animals to prey upon, from small to large. They are not built for a long chase, so they have to catch their prey in a small area. Lions are team hunters for food and sometimes can bring down prey the size of a hippopotamus. However, this is rare and bigger animals such as rhinos are avoided.

Lions feeding on a Cape buffalo.
Lions feeding on a Cape buffalo.

Large animal prey

Depending on the size of the range of the lion, different large animals can be hunted. Some of these animals may surprise you. Baby elephants, giraffes, hippopotamus and Cape buffalo are some of the larger animals that are hunted in different areas depending on where the lions are located. They also have been known to attack and kill hyenas, cheetahs, wild dogs and leopards.

How much do they eat?

No matter if it is a large or small prey animal, lions will gorge themselves on a kill, eating up to 66 pounds at a single sitting. They will eat the entire prey animal and can go several days with just one kill. Lions are more successful when they hunt in groups for prey.

Lions feeding on a dead giraffe.
Lions feeding on a dead giraffe.

Smaller animals

Warthogs, wildebeest, buffalo, impalas and zebras in Africa are the lion’s main prey. In India they will hunt deer, wild boar and nilgai. However, smaller beasts are often taken, such as springboks and Thompson’s gazelles. Other species, depending on availability, include gemsbok, kudu, eland and hartebeest.

Livestock and lions

Livestock are also a favorite target of lions in both India and Africa. In India, they are a common source of food for the lions. Domestic livestock, especially whether it is cows or other types of animal, are a major target for lions on both continents. This can lead to trouble with villagers and others that lose their stock to the predations of the lion.

Other big cats

Also see what do other big cats eat, such as:

  1. Cheetahs
  2. Jaguars

More on lions

  1. Facts about lions
  2. Apex predators

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