Lions are famously dubbed “the king of the jungle” and as such, many people believe they are at the absolute top of the food chain. While it’s true that they’re quite ferocious predators and many species stay clear of them, unbeknownst to many, the African plains are teeming with competition that can go head-to-head with this large cat. Whether alone or in a pack, using venom or brute force, here are a couple of animals who can put the lion’s royal title to shame.
1. Black mambas
Purely based on size, the lion has the clear advantage. But the black mamba’s secret weapon is its highly potent and effective venom; hence why it’s ranked as the most venomous snake in Africa and comes in second place to the king cobra. And even lions know not to mess with them. But the ones brave (or foolish) enough to mess with them don’t live long enough to regret doing so. These generally peaceful snakes only attack when they feel threatened. And when they do, their attacker dies a quick and very painful death.
Like lions, Nile crocodiles are apex predators with no other animals (except some humans) actively hunting them for food. With such little competition, they’re usually the ones doing the hunting, even going as far as targeting, you guessed it, lions. But only out of desperation. They’ll wait for the perfect opportunity, usually when the lion is drinking from or eating near a waterhole, then strike. At this point, it’s too late. The lions put up a good fight, but the croc’s powerful jaws make it hard for them to escape.
Thanks to Disney’s “The Lion King,” hyenas’ reputation as cowardly and funny scavengers is pretty much embedded into the minds of most people. It doesn’t help that their unique vocalizations sound like strange cackling and laughter. But these generally misunderstood carnivores are a lot tougher than you might believe. You see, they work together in tight-knit packs to take down mid-sized hoofed animals and even to steal a lion’s kills. But when they’re the ones being stolen from, they lose it and overwhelm the lions with their large numbers and aggression. These social animals are all about teamwork!
Rhinos seem to enjoy spending most of their free-time lazing around in watering holes, making them easy targets for poachers. But that laid back attitude hides a more aggressive side that has zero patience for strangers encroaching on their habitat. As one of Africa’s larger animals, they have no natural predators, certainly not lions, who sometimes make the mistake of going where they aren’t wanted. While crocodiles, hyenas and mambas actively avoid lions unless necessary, rhinos will waste no time setting things straight. An angry rhino, especially with that horn, will do some serious damage to a lion.
5. African Buffalo
While the African buffalo aren’t the most popular among the continent’s wildlife, they’re definitely not one to be messed with. They’re heavier than rhinos, are extremely territorial and have pretty bad tempers, making them formidable foes. Lions can sense this and only approach them in packs and most of the time even that isn’t enough. Just one African buffalo is able to fend off an entire pack of lions on its own, with the buffalo coming out on top, of course. They’re not nicknamed “the widow-maker” for nothing!
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