Do Lions Eat Other Lions? ALL You Need To Know (2023)

Do Lions Eat Other Lions

This Article Was Written By Israel Olaniran Reviewed By Dr Jenna Fred.

Last Updated on June 14, 2023 by israel olaniran

Lions, majestic creatures renowned for their power and grace, have long captured our fascination. As apex predators, they hold a firm position at the top of the food chain. However, amidst the allure of these magnificent animals, a common question arises: do lions eat other lions? In this article, we will delve into the intricate world of lion behavior, exploring their diet, social dynamics, and the rare instances of lion cannibalism.

Read: Can lions climb trees?

Do Lions Eat Other Lions?

Yes, lions will kill other lions, although it is not a common occurrence. Female lions may kill male lions in specific situations, such as feeling threatened by aggression or protecting their cubs. Lions are not a regular source of food for other animals, but cannibalism among lions, although rare, has been observed.

Do Lions Eat Other Lions
Do Lions Eat Other Lions Image by Michael Siebert from Pixabay

Understanding the Lion’s Diet

Lions are carnivorous creatures, and their diet primarily consists of large herbivores. Prey such as zebras, wildebeests, and buffalo make up the bulk of their meals. These ungulates provide the necessary nutrition to sustain the lion’s robust physique and energy demands.

Read: How fast can a lion run?

Intraspecific Aggression Among Lions

Territorial Behavior

Within the realm of lion society, territorial disputes and aggression can arise. Male lions, in particular, exhibit a strong territorial instinct. They fiercely protect their established domains, ensuring ample resources for themselves and their pride.

Male Lion Coalitions

To maintain their territory, male lions may form coalitions. These alliances increase their chances of successfully defending against intruders or usurpers. Working together, they can overpower rival males and secure their dominance.

Challenges to Leadership

Leadership within a pride is not a secure position. When new males take over a pride, they may kill the cubs of the previous leader to ensure their own genetic lineage. This infanticide serves as a means to establish their dominance and eliminate potential competition.


🐾 Are you a dog owner who wants to ensure your dog gets the absolute best in terms of nutrition?

Animals District's Expert Guide to Dog Nutrition pdf cover
For Every Dog Owner! $4.99 Only

Read: what eats lions?

Cases of Lion Cannibalism

Infanticide and Culling

While infrequent, cases of lion cannibalism have been observed. One such occurrence is infanticide, where male lions kill cubs. Although disturbing, this behavior serves an evolutionary purpose. By eliminating unrelated cubs, the incoming male can then sire his own offspring, increasing his genetic fitness.

Starvation and Scavenging

In rare cases of extreme scarcity, lions may turn to cannibalism as a survival strategy. During times of food shortage, weakened or injured lions may fall victim to their stronger counterparts. In these dire situations, lions resort to scavenging and consuming fallen pride members as a last resort.

Read: How much does a lion cost?

Social Dynamics and Cooperation

Pride Hierarchy

Lions live in prides, which consist of related females and their offspring, along with a few resident males. Within a pride, a hierarchical structure exists, with a dominant male assuming leadership. The females, although smaller in size, play an integral role in hunting and rearing the cubs.

Cooperative Hunting

Lions often engage in cooperative hunting, leveraging their strength in numbers to bring down larger prey. By working together, they can surround their target, increasing the chances of a successful kill. This collaborative behavior demonstrates the social intricacies of lion society.

Will lions kill other lions?

While it is uncommon, lions can indeed kill other lions under certain circumstances. This typically occurs during territorial disputes or when new males take over an existing pride. In such situations, the incoming males may kill the cubs of the previous leader to establish their dominance and eliminate potential competition.

Why do female lions kill male lions?

Female lions generally do not kill male lions. However, there have been isolated cases where females have been observed killing a male lion. These instances can occur if the female is feeling threatened by the male’s aggression, or if the male poses a danger to her cubs. These situations are not common and do not represent typical lion behavior.

Who eats other lions?

In general, lions are not a common source of food for other animals. Lions are apex predators, meaning they are at the top of the food chain in their ecosystems. They primarily feed on herbivores such as zebras, wildebeests, and buffalo. However, during times of extreme scarcity or desperation, weakened or injured lions may become targets for other carnivores or even other lions themselves.

Do lions cannibalize?

Although rare, lions have been known to engage in cannibalism. Infanticide, where male lions kill cubs of the previous leader, can be considered a form of cannibalism. Additionally, in times of severe food shortage, lions may resort to cannibalistic behavior as a survival strategy, consuming fallen pride members.

Do lions eat hyenas?

Lions and hyenas are fierce competitors in the wild. While lions have been known to attack and kill hyenas, they do not typically prey on them as a primary food source. Lions and hyenas often clash over territory and access to resources, leading to occasional violent encounters.

Do lions eat humans?

Lions are generally not inclined to prey on humans. They primarily target large herbivores and typically avoid human settlements. However, in rare instances of human-lion conflicts or when lions become accustomed to scavenging on human remains, there have been cases of lions attacking and killing humans.

Do lions eat elephants?

Adult elephants are formidable and challenging prey for lions. While there have been rare reports of lions attempting to bring down young or weakened elephants, it is highly unusual for lions to successfully hunt and kill healthy adult elephants. Lions typically target smaller and more manageable prey.

Do lions eat cheetahs?

Lions are known to be territorial and may kill or injure cheetahs if they come into contact. However, lions do not typically view cheetahs as a primary food source. Cheetahs are smaller and more agile than lions, and they generally avoid confrontation with their larger counterparts.

Do lions eat other big cats?

In general, lions do not eat other big cats. Big cats, including leopards and cheetahs, are not a typical part of a lion’s diet. However, in rare cases of territorial disputes or competition for resources, lions may attack and kill other big cats.

Do lions eat tigers?

Lions and tigers inhabit different regions and do not naturally encounter each other in the wild. While it is theoretically possible for a lion to kill and consume a tiger, there are no documented cases of this occurring in the wild. Lions and tigers have distinct territories and ecological niches.

Do lions eat other cats?

Lions primarily focus on hunting and consuming larger prey, such as ungulates. Domestic cats and smaller wild cat species are not part of a lion’s natural diet. Lions have evolved to tackle and bring down larger prey that can sustain them and their social structure.

Do lions eat other lions?

Final Thoughts On Do Lions Eat Other Lions?

In conclusion, while the idea of lions preying on their own kind may seem shocking, it does occur in certain circumstances. Factors such as territorial disputes, infanticide, and extreme scarcity can lead to instances of lion cannibalism. However, it is important to note that these occurrences are rare and not a regular part of lion behavior.


1. Are lions cannibals by nature? No, lions are not cannibals by nature. Cannibalistic behavior is rare and typically occurs under specific circumstances.

2. Do male lions kill their own cubs? Yes, male lions may kill cubs to assert their dominance and ensure their own genetic lineage.

3. Do lions eat other lions for food? While lions primarily feed on large herbivores, instances of lion cannibalism have been observed during extreme scarcity or territorial disputes.

4. Do lionesses engage in cannibalism? Cannibalism among lionesses is exceedingly rare. Their primary focus is on cooperative hunting and rearing their young.

5. Can lion cannibalism be considered normal behavior? No, lion cannibalism is not considered normal behavior. It is an exceptional occurrence driven by specific circumstances.


  • israel olaniran

    Israel Olaniran is an accomplished animal content writer with five years of expertise in creating engaging and educational material about cats, dogs, and other animals. When he's not writing, he dedicates his time to caring for his beloved four-year-old rescue puppy. Israel's work has been featured in renowned publications like "Pethouse," and he actively collaborates with local animal shelters and rescue organizations to raise awareness about their important work. His vast knowledge in animal care and ownership, as well as his up-to-date understanding of various breeds, making him a trusted source for global readers seeking reliable pet content.

Scroll to Top