What Eats Elephants? (8 Animals with Pictures)

What Eats Elephants

Examples of animals that eat elephants include wild dogs, hyenas, lions, crocodiles, and tigers.

Elephants are thought to be predator-free in the wild due to their size and close social structures that make attacking difficult. However, calves or young elephants are at risk of being preyed upon, which is why they stay with the family group for up to three years.

Elephants are most threatened by humans and the natural elements. The Asian elephant, which is listed as critically endangered, and the African elephant, which is classed as vulnerable to endangerment, are the two recognized species of elephants. Predators such as lions, hyenas, tigers, and wild dogs generally only prey on young, sick, or injured elephants.

Examples of Animals that Eat Elephants

1. African Wild Dogs

Scientific NameLycaon pictus
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangesouthern Africa and the southern part of East Africa (especially Tanzania and northern Mozambique)

The African wild dog, also called the painted hunting dog, is a large carnivorous mammal of the Canidae family. Although not considered true wolves, African wild dogs are closely related and share many similarities with them. They live and hunt in packs of six to 20 individuals and can take down prey much larger than themselves, such as antelopes, zebras, and even elephants.

African wild dogs are native to sub-Saharan Africa and can be found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, savannas, and grasslands. They are diurnal animals, meaning they are active during the day. African wild dogs typically live in packs of 20 individuals, but packs of up to 40 have been observed. The pack is a close-knit family unit and all members cooperate in hunting and raising young.

African wild dogs are expert hunters and can take down prey much larger than themselves. Their preferred prey includes antelopes, zebras, and even elephants. They use a cooperative hunting strategy known as “leapfrogging.” One dog will chase the prey and when it tires, another dog will take over. This pattern is repeated until the prey is exhausted and the dogs can bring it down.

Related Article: Do African Wild Dogs Work Together?

2. Asian Wild Dogs

Scientific NameCuon alpinus
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeCentral, South, East, and Southeast Asia

The dholes or Asiatic wild dogs are the main predators of elephants in Asia. Dholes live and hunt in large packs, which gives them an advantage when taking down larger prey such as elephants. These dogs are known to take down entire herds of elephants, targeting the calves and young adults.

The dholes’ hunting behavior is very efficient and they are able to kill an elephant within minutes. They use their sharp teeth and powerful jaws to bite through the elephant’s skin, throat, and skull. Once the elephant is down, the pack will quickly consume the carcass. Dholes are also known to scavenge from other predators such as tigers and leopards.

While dholes are the main predators of elephants in Asia, they are also found in Africa where they prey on antelope, zebra, and wildebeest. Dholes are endangered due to habitat loss and conflict with humans. They are also hunted for their fur, which is used to make traditional clothing in some cultures.

3. Crocodiles

Scientific NameCrocodylidae
Type of AnimalReptile
Rangetropical regions of Africa, Asia, Australia and the Americas

Crocodiles are opportunistic predators and will feed on any animal that comes within reach, including elephants. Crocodiles have been known to kill full-grown elephants, but usually prey on smaller individuals or calves.

Crocodiles can live up to 70 years in the wild, and often become very territorial as they age. They will defend their territory against other crocodiles, as well as other predators such as lions and hyenas. Crocodiles are not considered endangered, but some species are threatened by hunting and habitat loss.

Crocodiles are ambush predators, lying in wait for their prey to come near. They can swim very quickly and use their powerful tails to propel themselves through the water. Crocodiles have long, sharp teeth that are perfect for tearing into flesh. They also have a keen sense of smell and hearing which allows them to detect prey even when it is far away.

When a crocodile attacks, it will grab its prey with its powerful jaws and then drag it into the water to drown. Crocodiles will often wait for their prey to rot before eating it, as this makes it easier to digest.

4. Hyenas

Scientific NameHyaenidae
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangenorth and northeast Africa, the Middle East and Asia, all the way to southern Siberia

The spotted hyena is the most common type of hyena, and it is also the largest member of the dog family. These predators live in Africa south of the Sahara desert.

Although they are often scavengers, they will hunt and kill their own prey. When going after an elephant, a group of spotted hyenas will work together to corner the animal. They will attack the elephant’s hind legs, causing it to stumble and fall. Then, they will go for the throat and soft belly, killing it. Spotted hyenas can also run very fast, reaching speeds of up to 40 miles per hour.

Spotted hyenas are known for their distinctive laughter-like vocalization, which is used as a form of communication. They live in clans of around 10 to 50 animals, and females are the dominant sex.

These animals are very adaptable and can survive in a variety of habitats, including deserts, grasslands, and forests. Spotted hyenas are omnivores and eat a variety of things, including meat, fruit, vegetables, and insects. They are also known to steal food from other animals.

Related Article: Do Hyena Eat Giraffes?

5. Lions

Scientific NamePanthera leo
Type of AnimalMammal

The king of the jungle is also a formidable hunter of elephants. A single lion is capable of taking down an female elephant, although it does not happen often. A group of lions, called a pride, will usually take down a juvenile or sickly elephant. To do so, they will first isolate the animal from the rest of the herd. Then, they will stalk it and attack from behind, biting the elephant’s neck to suffocate it.

Lions are also known to scavenge on dead elephants, eating anything from the meat to the bones.This is a good thing for African elephants, as it helps keep their population numbers in check.

6. Tigers

Scientific NamePanthera tigris
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeRussian Far East to parts of North Korea, China, India, and Southwest Asia to the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Tigers are the largest of the felines and can weigh up to 650 pounds. They inhabit forests, grasslands and swamps in Asia. Tigers hunt mostly at night and use their acute sense of smell to locate prey. They will often stalk their prey before attacking. A tiger’s diet consists mainly of large mammals such as deer, wild boar and, occasionally, elephants.

7. Vultures

Scientific NameCathartes
Type of AnimalBird
RangeAsia, Africa, and Europe

Vultures are one of the animals that eat elephants. They live in Africa and Asia. These scavengers have a keen sense of smell which allows them to find their prey from a great distance away. Vultures will circle above an elephant herd until they find one that is weak or injured. They then descend upon the animal and feed on its carcass.

The vulture is a large, dark bird with a bald head and a long, hooked beak. They have wide wingspans which allow them to soar for hours in search of food. Vultures are important members of the ecosystem as they help to keep it clean by scavenging dead animals.

Related Article: What Eats Vultures?

8. Wolves

Scientific NameCanis lupus
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeNorth America, Europe, Asia and North Africa

The wolf is a well known predator of many animals, including the elephant. In some areas of Africa and Asia, where elephants live, there are packs of wolves that specialize in hunting them. These wolves work together to bring down an elephant by biting its legs and feet until it can no longer support its own weight and collapses. Once the elephant is down, the pack will rip it apart and start eating it.

Wolves will also target young elephants, which are easier to take down than adults. If a pack of wolves is successful in taking down an elephant, they will feast on its meat for days. The rest of the pack will often stand guard around the kill to make sure no other animals steal their hard-earned dinner.


While it’s shocking to think about, there are animals out there that prey on elephants. In fact, according to the World Wildlife Fund, African lions are a major predator of adult elephants, and leopards often kill young ones. Additionally, spotted hyenas have been known to feed on elephant carcasses.

It’s important to remember that predators are an important part of the ecosystem, and their role in controlling populations helps to maintain balance. Without them, animal populations could grow unchecked and cause problems for other species.

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