Do Lions Eat Cheetahs? Lions’ Behavior

Lions and cheetahs are among the most recognizable animals in the entire universe. But despite their popularity, their eating habits are still shrouded in mystery. 

While we know that lions are carnivorous animals, no one expects them to prey on their fellow cats. However, cases of lions killing and eating cheetah cubs are no longer unheard of. 

This leaves us with one unanswered question – do lions eat cheetahs?

Do lions eat cheetahs?

Yes – lions can eat cheetahs but only on rare occasions when they are extremely hungry with no other option as far as food is concerned. 

As you probably know, lions are among the top predators on the food chain – the apex predators. For this reason, it is not uncommon to find lions preying on other predators like cheetahs along with their cubs.

The most intriguing part is that after attacking and killing cheetahs and other canines, lions rarely eat them. 

Lions are highly territorial animals and they often attack and kill other big cats to defend their territory rather than kill them for food.

Defending their territory is one of the reasons why Lions Live In Groups.

Can a lion kill a cheetah?

Yes – a lion can kill a cheetah easily because it is bigger, stronger, and more powerful. Lions are apex predators, meaning they can kill any other animal below them on the food chain.

Animal experts are yet to establish the main reason why lions kill cheetahs and other smaller predators, but many believe it has to do with territorial dominance.

According to a 2014 report, the existence of cheetahs is in danger with lions attacking and killings dozens of cheetahs and cheetah cubs every year.

What is puzzling is that cheetahs do not compete directly with lions for prey. In fact, the bigger cats dominate cheetahs by stealing and scavenging their kills.

Do lions hate cheetahs?

Wild animals do not have complex emotions as humans like hate or empathy, so it is difficult to say whether lions hate cheetahs. People perceive lions to hate cheetahs because of their aggression toward them.

Lions are not hateful but rather jealous of cheetahs because they are not as fast as their smaller cousins. Their slow nature means they are unable to run down fast preys that cheetahs usually hunt easily.

The competition for food puts lions at loggerheads with cheetahs as lions think there won’t be any food left for them. For this reason, lions tend to attack cheetahs to reduce the competition.

Another obvious reason why lions seem to hate cheetahs has to do with territorial dominance. Lions are “kings of the jungle” and they are ready to do anything, including attacking other animals, to protect their “kingdom.”

What animals eat cheetahs?

Despite being big cats, cheetahs are prey to other animals too. Carnivores like leopards, spotted hyenas, and lions prey on cheetahs. The youngsters (cheetah cubs) are particularly susceptible to predation.

Other predators of cheetahs are human beings. But what is rather ironic is that most of these predators do not kill cheetahs for food. Instead, they attack and kill cheetahs to defend their farms and territories.

Bigger cats like lions also tend to attack and kill cheetahs while defending their turf but they can end up eating the cheetah if they are starving.

A dead cheetah can be eaten by vultures, wild dogs, hyenas, jackals, and other animals that like scavenge for food.

Why do lions hate leopards?

Lions hate leopards for two reasons. The first reason has to do with competition for food. Leopards tend to carry their kill up the tree, making it impossible for lions to follow them and steal the food.

Since leopards are better hunters, lions usually see them as a threat to their food supply. For this reason, lions naturally attack leopards and other smaller predators to avoid competition.

Another reason why lions hate leopards is that the latter is a threat to their cubs. For this reason, lions will always attack leopards to protect their territory.

Lions and leopards are big enemies and they will always fight to the death when they come into contact.

What animal can kill a lion?

Even though lions are apex predators, they are vulnerable and can be killed by other animals especially when out hunting. 

Animals like elephants, buffaloes, and giraffes can kill a lion with one strong kick.

| Additional reading: Do Lions Eat Elephants?

Other animals like hippos have huge and sharp teeth that can rip a lion apart with just one bite. 

Crocodiles have very sharp teeth and an incredibly strong tail that can rip apart a lion with one strike.

Tigers are heavier, bigger, and more intelligent than lions hence they are more likely to win in a battle between the two kings of the jungle.

| Additional reading: Do Lions Live In The Jungle?

Humans are the greatest predators of lions. Most lion deaths come as a result of poaching, game hunting, and other illegal or legal human activities.

Do lions hate humans?

Lions do not necessarily hate humans. In any case, humans and lions have co-existed without any qualms since time immemorial. 

However, studies show that lions do fear humans rather than hate them, and they may strike in case they feel threatened.

Since lions are wild in nature, it is very difficult to predict their behavior. Some lions, like the man-eaters of Tsavo, used to attack humans for fun while mountain lions are known to run scared at the sound of humans.

Who is stronger between a lion and a tiger?

It is somewhat difficult to pick a winner in a contest between a lion and a tiger due to their striking similarities. 

Nonetheless, tigers tend to be heavier and stronger. Tigers are also bigger and more intelligent compared to lions. Considering this, there is no doubt that tigers are stronger than lions.

Final Thoughts 

Lions are apex predators, which means they sit at the top of the ecological food chain. They have very few enemies and they dominate over other cats.

As far as consuming other predators is concerned, lions only kill other big cats like cheetahs and leopards but they seldom eat them. The reason for killing other predators is to avoid competition and protect their territory.

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