What Are the Lion’s Enemies?

Leszek Leszczynski/CC-BY 2.0

The enemies of lions include elephants, buffalo and hyena. Humans and nature are also enemies of the lion and other big cat populations.

Lions formerly roamed through Africa, and parts of both Asia and Europe, but the numbers of lion prides have dwindled in time. Most populations of lions are found in parts of sub-Saharan Africa. One pocket of Asian lions continues in the Gir Forest of India. Humans are considered the worst enemies of the lion, particularly from cattle ranchers who poach, poison and hunt them to protect their herds. Lions are also hunted for sport, which diminishes their numbers.

As human populations expand and agricultural endeavors increase, the lion’s natural habitats are lost, which leads to diminished populations. An indirect enemy of lions is climate change, which causes increases in distemper outbreaks. Researchers discovered that during two major outbreaks, both lions and their prey became infested with ticks that carried the canine distemper virus.

While man is considered the lion’s worst enemy, the greatest enemies within the lion’s natural habitat include larger animals, such as elephants and buffalo. Lions have been known to bring down and kill both animals but lions have also been killed by them. The spotted hyena has been deemed the most deadly within a lion’s habitat.