We know that lions are carnivores, and their diet consists of other mammals, especially larger ones such as zebras, African buffaloes, and wildebeests. But do they eat giraffes?
Lions do eat giraffes, but they would not be their first option. Even for lions hunting can be difficult, and so they will opt for smaller herbivores first.
An adult giraffe is incredibly tall, so taking one down isn’t easy. Therefore, lions would tend to target young giraffes rather than tall, adult giraffes.
But how do lions hunt giraffes, and how do giraffes fend off lions? Are giraffes also preyed on by other predators? We’ll answer all of these questions below!
Do Lions Like Giraffe Meat?
Lions do indeed like giraffe meat! While giraffes are difficult to take down, due to their height they are easy to spot in the wild so are always getting the attention of a pride of lions!
Another reason why lions like giraffe meat is that due to their nutritious diet, giraffe meat is nutritious and rich. Plus, if a pride of lions manages to take down a giraffe, there is enough for the whole pride to feast on.
As lions mainly target young giraffes, a large section of their population doesn’t reach old age.
How Do Lions Hunt Giraffes?
While lions hunt giraffes, their large size means that they are not an easy target. What makes giraffes even harder to hunt is the fact they live in herds, and after all, there is safety in numbers!
Despite the fact they live in herds, the strength of their social bond is weaker compared to other herd animals. This means that a lot of giraffes live on their own, and it is these loner giraffes that often find themselves the target of lions.
But as we have discussed before, taking down even one adult giraffe is quite the challenge and requires a pride of lions working together to bring it down.
The normal hunting method of a lion is to kill their prey by strangling them, or clamping their powerful jaws around their prey’s neck.
However, a giraffe is too tall for a lion to pounce on its neck. So lions go for the giraffe’s hind legs instead. They wear the giraffe down by inflicting many bites and claws to its hing legs, and when the giraffe is weakened, the lions leap on its back.
This would eventually bring the giraffe down, and it’s then the lions begin preying on it.
How Do Giraffes Defend Themselves?
Giraffes may look like docile and feeble creatures, but they put up a fight when attacked! And while lions do have a strategy to bring a giraffe down, they’re not always a guaranteed dinner.
Some giraffes manage to fend off a lion attack, and some scientists have spotted the scars of a lion attack on the legs and backs of giraffes. These scars are usually present on older giraffes, as younger giraffes and calves are easy prey.
When lions begin biting a giraffe’s hind legs, they defend themselves by kicking lions with their hind legs or forelegs. The average weight of a giraffe is 2,500 lbs and their powerful hooves could even kill a lion.
Just one kick could break a lion’s spine or skull. It is very common for members of a pride to sustain fatal injuries when hunting a giraffe. This is why lions try to avoid hunting giraffes when they can.
However, while lions usually hunt giraffes as a group, it has been known for two adult lions to take down a giraffe.
What Other Animals Hunt Giraffes?
Life in the wild is difficult for many animals – especially if you are prey or a young animal.
But their magnificent size and powerful legs that deliver a fatal kick means giraffes are more than capable of defending themselves against predators, and most predators tend to back off from attacking an adult giraffe.
Meanwhile, young calves are still preyed upon. Although giraffe calves do have an incredible growth rate (they grow 2 inches per day) 75% of calves do not reach adulthood.
But while giraffes are difficult animals to hunt, it’s not just lions that attempt to prey upon them. Let’s take a closer look at who these predators are.
Hyenas are the most common predators of giraffes after lions. Like lions, hyenas are skilled at hunting in teams, and are one of the most foreboding predators in the wild. However, hyenas tend to hunt young, sick giraffes rather than healthy adults.
African Wild Dogs
African wild dogs are known for being aggressive and persistent and will pursue their prey until the prey is exhausted, and this is when they strike. But like hyenas, they normally don’t target adult giraffes, but will take the opportunity to hunt calves.
Leopards are other wildcats that also prey on giraffes. Unlike lions, leopards are not social animals and prefer to hunt alone, so they also tend to hunt young giraffes.
Crocodiles naturally target giraffes when they are drinking water. Crocodiles are incredibly stealthy, and are quick enough to grab the giraffe, drag them into the water and drown them. However, crocodiles rarely attack giraffes
Although giraffes have few predators in the wild, humans are undoubtedly their biggest threat. Although it is illegal to harm or kill a giraffe in most countries, poaching is sadly still all too common.
To conclude, yes, lions do eat giraffes. Lions have incredible hunting skills and strength, so they are able to prey on large animals. But adult giraffes are quite the match for lions thanks to their size and strength, so giraffes are not a lion’s first choice of prey.
However, young giraffes are more vulnerable, so lions are more likely to attack them.
Giraffes may look peaceful and even a little clumsy, but they are formidable animals. Not only do their predators fail to take them down, but their powerful kicks can even kill them.