Lions are one of the apex predators which are commonly found in Africa and western India. They dominate the savannahs, living in large groups (known as prides), and hunt their prey in teams. But some doubt that can lions hunt bigger mammals and eat them? Let’s look into these things in this article.
Do lions eat Antelopes?
As lions mostly hunt in prides, it is common for them to go after medium to large-sized hoofed animals. So, generally, antelopes fall under their favorite category and top the list among their prey. So killing a large animal is easy for them as a single kill can go around many mouths. The other big cats like tigers or cheetahs only have to feed themselves (or their cubs if any) as they are solitary animals whereas lions may have to feed around 10 mouths with a single kill.
Also as they need to eat around one-fourth of their body weight during each feed, it’s very important that lions go after sources of food that are easier to kill and have enough meat on their bones to feed a large number of lions.
Note: Lions cannot succeed in their every hunt. They get their prey only 20% of the time. So they have to be smart while choosing the targets.
Combining all these facts, lions naturally prefer to go after the same species of prey – large, hoofed mammals known as ungulates which are more likely to try and run away rather than stand and put up a fight with the king of the jungle. Animals that fall under this category (ungulates) are zebras, gazelles, warthogs, and wildebeests. So, more often than not these animals would end up as a lion’s lunch.
Also Read: Do Lions Live In The Desert?
Can Lions Eat Antelopes?
Antelopes are deer-like animals that live mostly in Africa, the middle east, and Asia. They are not ungulates but even-toed ruminants (grazing hoofed herbivores). They are slightly different from Ungulates. However, to lions, who don’t waste their time with study and science, antelopes have enough similar qualities to make them add to their primary prey list. So, lions often hunt down and consume antelopes just as they do bison, zebras, and wildebeests.
Like every other animal, antelopes have also evolved over the course of time, and they live in large herds to improve their odds making it difficult for a lion to isolate one from the group and hunt down. Some antelopes have antlers and horns, which they use to fight back when escape is not an option. They also tend to stick with wildebeests, which are far more likely to injure and even throw off lions (if there is a fight) due to their massive size and curved horns.
Antelopes run fast too but despite all these facts, they sometimes will be isolated from the group and killed by lions, the chances are even higher when it’s a pride.
Lions Vs Antelopes
When a herd of antelopes encounters a lion, the first line of defense is to run away. By doing so, their chances of survival are increased actually, as they are way faster than their adversaries. Antelopes can run up to 98 km/h (60 miles per hour) whereas lions can only reach 81 km/h (50 miles per hour), and also they can’t sustain that speed for longer distances without any break. But an antelope can run continuously as its hooves – alongside a built-in cooling system that prevents the brain and vital fluids from overheating.
This mechanism allows an antelope to outdistance its attackers with superior endurance, to the extent of running for miles on end without stopping.
Sometimes the size of an antelope herd can be in the hundreds or thousands running in one massive disorganized unit that easily overcomes any obstacle, and a chasing lion gets confused in the dust and unable to choose a target on time. And when the big cat is succeeding in isolating and cornering one antelope, it tries vigorously to fend off its attacker with its sharp horns and hooves (buying itself more time before escaping) and shows unparalleled courage that can force the enemy predator to abandon the hunt.
Also Read: Do Lions Eat Dead Animals?
Although it is a known fact that lions can hunt and kill most of the animals in the forest and the antelopes are no exception. They still fight back their best to save their lives, when there is a fight.
Do Lions Eat Antelopes In Captivity?
Zoos are supposed to feed the animals a diet that closely resembles their natural diet, one that they have in the wild. But it can be tricky for zookeepers when the food is miles away on another continent. So, they try their best to mimic the diet while providing the same nutrients that the animal requires. This is why lions usually were fed beef from local farms along with a variety of meats like chicken, sheep, rabbit, and even horse to help enrich their diet.
Some people may assume that zoo will feed their predators with other animals born and bred in the zoo. But this is not true and is against the law. A zoo has to ensure that every animal living there is safe and content. Also, as these lions that are in zoos are most likely born and bred in captivity – so they have next to no skills when it comes to hunting down actual live animals. This means if the lions try to hunt other animals as they do in wild, it can result in injuries to both parties.
With all this information, we can say that lions are not fed antelopes (dead or alive) in zoos. Instead, they are fed local animal produce from ethical sources such as farms and slaughterhouses.
What Other Animals Eat Antelopes?
A forest is a vast area and there are a number of animals including predators live in it. Apart from lions, there are other animals who love to hunt them and devour their meat while eating leisurely. Some of them are leopards, hyenas, and cheetahs.
Here is a video of lions hunting an antelope.