What Eats Elephants? (Asian & African Elephant Predators)

Disclaimer: The information presented below is for general informational & educational purposes only. Always consult with animal professionals in case of specific concerns.

An African male elephant can weigh up to six tons and be more than three meters tall.

They are also mighty enough to destroy large tracts of land, overturn cars, and retaliate against any trouble from other animals.

Elephants are the largest land mammal and also the most powerful. However, in contrast to their enormous size, this species is usually very gentle and friendly.

So, what eats elephants? Keep reading to see more.

What Eats Elephants?

what eats elephants

Species that can eat elephants are humans, lions, tigers, hyenas, wild dogs, and crocodiles. You must be very curious about these animals that can eat elephants.

Elephants have no natural predators. The fact is that very few other species like to attack or hunt an elephant because they know that it will cost them dearly.

In the wild, adult elephants are close prey. The animal does not hunt other animals, and other species do not often attack them.

However, it doesn’t mean there haven’t been any animals that have tried this tough task. And there are a few that have succeeded.

A predator must rely on two main factors, including strength and overwhelming numbers, to take down an elephant. However, predators also usually only target sick, frail, and young individuals in the herd.

Although the adults are rarely attacked, their babies are vulnerable and prey to many species.

On average, a newborn elephant will be 3 feet tall and weigh about 250 pounds. They are clumsy and very vulnerable.

During the first few months, the babies will live entirely under the protection of the mothers. Also, they will even drink breast milk until they are two years old.

When elephants are threatened, they receive protection from their mothers and other herd members.

The first year of elephant babies is crucial to the fight for survival. This species has an average lifespan of 65 years, but 30% of calves do not live past one year.

Now we will discuss six species that can kill and eat this giant animal.

Humans

Humans are considered one of the top predators of elephants. However, the purpose of humans in hunting elephants is not for the sake of eating meat.

Instead, humans kill these animals mainly for their tusks, which people use to make jewelry, billiard balls, ornaments, and others.

In many parts of Asia, humans also kill this species for its meat and skin, and it is illegal to kill these animals. Despite the efforts of many countries to protect elephants, many people intentionally violate this law.

Lions

The elephants protect the babies very closely. Though considered one of the deadliest wild animals, a single lion is far from defeating a full-fledged, strong, and angry female elephant.

When a female lion hunts, she tends to hunt in groups. So, a lion may not be able to do anything to an elephant, but a herd of lions can handle a small individual.

It is still a difficult task and requires a lot of effort from the members of the lion herd. So, lions rarely attack this species, except out of desperation and hunger.

In addition, male lions have a better chance and are more likely to succeed in this task because they have superior physical strength to females.

The lion’s tactic separates sick or young individuals from the herd, although this is very difficult.

Tiger

Unlike lions or other predatory mammals, tigers hunt alone rather than in packs.

When hunting, this animal also often stalks for its prey. When the tiger gets close enough to its prey and makes sure it’s far enough away from the rest of the herd, it will pounce on its prey.

Hunting can be done once every nine days or less. So every time it eats meat, it is ready to eat about 20kg to survive until the next hunt.

There is a case of a tiger attacking an elephant. However, it happens very rarely.

When hunting this species, tigers will also target sick, young, or old individuals to reduce the risk of being trampled to death.

Like other hunts, the tiger will try to bite the neck of the prey to kill it quickly.

Hyenas

Hyena

Hyenas are bloody carnivores and skilled hunters. The majority of the diet of this species comes from medium and large mammals.

This species is also a very effective predator, especially spotted hyenas, as they often hunt in the herd.

These animals can also attack the elephant and mainly focus on young individuals.

Hyenas are considerably smaller than lions, but they will take risks in times of hunger or despair.

Removing a baby elephant from its mother or herd is a rare opportunity.

When hunting, hyenas will prowl near a herd of elephants until they spot a young, sick, or dying one. Then, they will be patient to wait until the baby, sick, or dying individuals are separated from the herd.

After that, the hyenas will seize the opportunity.

Wild dogs

Like hyenas, wild dogs can also attack the elephant, but rarely.

And large packs of wild dogs often hunt in groups of 20 or more, and they also only attack very young elephants.

But these dogs are even smaller than hyenas. Therefore, the chances of them succeeding in this task are much lower.

However, wild dogs are extremely intelligent and hunt their prey very efficiently despite their small size. Therefore, underestimating the cunning of these creatures is a big mistake.

These dogs often hunt smaller mammals such as antelope, warthogs, and the buffalo calf. However, hunting a small elephant isn’t their favorite task.

Crocodiles

Crocodile

The Nile crocodile is a dangerous predator that lurks in the rivers of Africa.

A giant crocodile is always easy to have a meal with whenever an animal comes into the river. These cunning predators can attack a baby elephant wading in the water for a drink.

Yet, if these crocodiles don’t react quickly enough, they put themselves in danger of being retaliated against by the elephant herd.

The easiest thing to kill an elephant is the crocodile biting off the trunk. After that, that elephant may die from not breathing.

On the other hand, an alligator is more likely to kill a baby elephant and is most successful on its watery lawn.

Do Any Other Animals Attack Elephants But Not Eat Them?

In addition to the above predators, some other animals can kill an elephant but not eat meat. These include rhinos, snakes, and some others.

Rhinos

Rhinos are also one of the other dangerous wild animals that can attack an elephant, even though they usually look docile.

These two species are often found in similar areas, so territorial disputes are inevitable.

Yet, the elephant will usually win, mainly due to the significant difference in size.

A rhino is usually six feet tall and weighs two tons, while an elephant is about 12 feet tall and weighs about six tons.

Despite the disadvantage of size, the rhinos are faster than their opponent. Therefore, they can utilize their sharp horns to attack opponents.

The rhinos’ horns are sharp enough to pierce the hard and thick skin, inflicting a severe wound to kill an opponent.

Snakes

You might think that a giant snake, like an anaconda or reticulated python, would be capable of taking down an elephant. Yet, that thinking is not correct.

None of them had enough strength to kill or take down this giant animal. But the king cobra is an exception.

King cobras will never waste venom on animals that are not their prey. However, they will attack any species that threatens or disturbs their territory.

When these cobras attack, the venom they secrete will be enough to kill an adult elephant. The elephant would surely die if these cobras bit into its tusk, where the skin is thinnest.

Other Elephants

It is scarce for one elephant to kill another. However, that can happen, especially during the mating season.

Mating season is dangerous for males as angry male elephants can fight each other to death.

There have even been cases of an elephant attacking family members, including its calves. That is when its hormones were out of control.

What Happens When Elephants and Predators Meet?

Elephants have a very close relationship with each other.

The larger ones will protect family members or flocks. They will surround to protect weaker or younger members when enemies are nearby.

Predators will rarely attack an adult and healthy elephant. Therefore, the remaining individuals in the herd will be safe.

When a predator tries to take down an elephant in the herd, other elephants may attack in response. Elephants even protect the carcasses of dead elephants.

Are There Other Elephant Enemies?

Apart from the above cases, elephants pose almost no real threat in the wild.

However, scientists have found that old elephants panic about bees, which can cause them to run away, presumably to avoid being stung.

Bees are not elephant predators, but they can make elephants run away.

Do Elephants Attack Other Animals?

Elephants are peaceful animals in most cases. It is rare for an elephant to harm or attack other animals unless it feels threatened.

However, male elephants enter a musth condition once a year before exhibiting aggressive behavior.

These elephants produce sixty times more testosterone than normal in that state, making them potentially dangerous to humans and other animals.

How Do These Animals Protect Themselves From Predators?

Elephants protect themselves thanks to their massive body size.

An average elephant is 8 to 13 feet tall and weighs 5,000 lbs to 14,000 lbs. As a result, other enemies are afraid to attack adult elephants.

An elephant can scare away intruders by rushing at them. Although this animal cannot gallop, it can reach speeds of up to 25 mph.

The most common case is that these animals use their long tusks to attack anyone who threatens them. They can also use tusks as a digging tool.

The Bottom Line

What eats elephants? Some of those animals are lions, tigers, hyenas, wild dogs, crocodiles, and even humans.

The elephant has almost no natural enemies. They are very rarely attacked or also rarely attack other animals.

Nowadays, one of the biggest dangers of this species is humans, who are willing to kill an elephant just for its tusks.

It is essential to protect these animals before driving them to extinction. This animal is unique, fascinating, and a treasure worth preserving for our planet.