Do Lions Eat Cheetahs? (Can They Catch Them)

Lions are the top predators in Africa and they certainly like to show it off. They will kill predators and their cubs that live within their territory and it’s still not clear why they do that. But aren’t cheetahs too fast for lions?

Do lions eat cheetahs? Lions often kill other predators such as leopards, hyenas, and yes, cheetahs but they’ll seldom eat them. Lions dominate cheetahs by stealing their kills and killing their cubs and even adults when given the chance. In fact, lions can kill up to 80% of cheetah cubs in some areas. Although lions rarely ate the cubs, the cheetah mothers often consumed the remains of their offspring after the lions had left.

Lions also kill other predators like leopards and spotted hyenas.

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What Do Lions Eat?

Lions are apex and keystone predators that eat mostly mammals like zebras, buffalos, giraffes, wildebeests, and others. These ungulates mostly weigh between 420 – 1,210 lb or 190 – 550 kg. They typically eat the prey at the location of the hunt but sometimes drag large prey into cover.

A keystone species is a species that has a disproportionately large effect on its natural environment relative to its abundance, a concept introduced in 1969 by the zoologist Robert T. Paine.

Lions will usually avoid fully grown adult elephants, rhinos, and hippos, as well as small prey like dik-dik, hyrax, hare, and monkey.

Young lions will start displaying stalking behaviour at around three months of age, and won’t participate in hunting until they are almost a year old and begin to hunt effectively when nearing the age of two.

Lionesses have a special role in the group. They are typically the ones that do all the hunting, while male lions only hunt when solo. Each lioness has her favored position during the hunt. For example, stalking prey on the “wing”, then attacking, moving a smaller distance in the center of the group, and capturing prey fleeing from other lionesses, and similar tactics.

Male lions need 15 lb (7 kg) of meat per day and lionesses need 11 lb (5 kg). That’s why smaller kills tend to make lions squabble over who eats first and this can often make cubs and older or crippled lions suffer. But most of the time, everyone will get their fill, even if they get only leftovers.

Large kills are shared more widely among pride members.

Do Lions Eat Carrion?

What is carrion, you ask? Carrion is the decaying flesh of dead animals (including human flesh). Lions do eat carrion and it’s thought to provide a large part of lions diet. Scavenging lions will always be on the lookout for vultures circling and indicating death or distress.

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How Did Cheetahs Adapt?

So if lions are killing your cubs and are a big treat to your survival, you’d move out of their territory and onto greener pastures, right? Well, no.

Cheetas will stay in lions’ territory and still thrive. They even set up their dens where there are the most lions! How do they manage to survive then? By staying very, very cautious.

According to researchers, cheetahs will carefully monitor the lions and stay 100 yards away from them so they have a head start if shit hits the fan. Cheetahs can also become fertile within 2 weeks of losing their cubs and that is a major advantage and adaptation to large percentages of cubs being killed and eaten or just killed.

Cheetahs are also mainly active (and out of their den) during the day, while lions are active mainly at night. This happens only when there is an abundance of lions. When cheetahs are the major or main predators, they will be more active at night.

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