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

What Do Lions Eat

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

Last Updated on June 14, 2023 by israel olaniran

Lions, known as the kings of the savannah, have a diverse diet that is primarily based on meat. In the wild, lions hunt and feed on a variety of animals to sustain their nutritional needs. This article explores the dietary habits of lions, their preferred prey, hunting strategies, variations in diet among different lion populations, and the challenges they face in the presence of human settlements. Let’s dive into the fascinating world of a lion’s diet and find out what do lions eat?.

What Do Lions Eat?

Lions primarily eat a variety of herbivores, including animals such as buffalos, zebras, wildebeests, and warthogs. These herbivores constitute the bulk of a lion’s diet, providing the necessary nutrients and energy for their survival.

Lions are skilled hunters, using their strength, speed, and cooperative hunting strategies to capture and consume their prey. While herbivores make up the majority of their diet, lions may also scavenge opportunistically and consume smaller carnivores or feed on carcasses left behind by other predators.

AnimalReason for Consumption
BuffaloBuffalos provide a substantial amount of meat and are often targeted by lions due to their large size and abundance.
ZebraZebras are common prey for lions due to their relatively large population and their presence in lion territories.
WildebeestDuring the annual wildebeest migration, lions take advantage of the abundance of wildebeests, providing a valuable food source.
WarthogWarthogs, with their relatively smaller size, are accessible targets for lions and provide a rewarding source of food.
ImpalaImpalas are agile antelopes found in lion habitats, and their population density makes them an attractive prey option.
GiraffeWhile not a common prey, lions may target giraffes if other food sources are scarce, due to their size and vulnerability.
Thomson’s GazelleGazelles are swift herbivores, and their agility poses a challenge, but when successfully hunted, they provide nourishment.
what do lions eat? table

Read: do lions eat other lions?

Lion Diet in the Wild

Natural Prey of Lions

Lions primarily target herbivores, which make up the majority of their diet. The most common herbivores they prey upon are buffalos and zebras.


Buffalo are large herbivores that inhabit the same territories as lions. These formidable creatures offer a substantial amount of meat, making them a valuable food source. Lions use their strength, speed, and hunting strategies to take down buffalos, usually targeting the weaker or younger members of the herd.


Zebras, with their distinct black and white stripes, are another common prey species for lions. Their relatively large population and social structure make them an attractive target for lions. Zebras often fall victim to the lion’s stealth and powerful hunting techniques.


While herbivores constitute the bulk of their diet, lions also feed on smaller carnivores found in their habitat.


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Wildebeests, also known as gnus, are a common target for lions. These migratory herbivores present an excellent opportunity for lions to hunt in large numbers. During the annual wildebeest migration, lions gather in large prides to take advantage of the abundant prey.


Warthogs, with their distinctive tusks and warty facial features, are often on the menu for lions. These omnivorous creatures can be found in the same areas as lions, and their relatively small size makes them an accessible and rewarding target.

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

Hunting Strategies

Lions employ various hunting strategies to capture their prey effectively.

Group Hunting

Lions are known for their cooperative hunting behavior. They live in social groups called prides, consisting of multiple adult females, their offspring, and a few adult males. This social structure enables them to coordinate and execute group hunts, increasing their chances of a successful kill. By working together, lions can bring down larger prey and secure a steady supply of food for the pride.

Read: what eats lions?

Stalking and Ambushing

Lions are adept stalkers and ambush predators. They rely on their excellent camouflage and patience to get within striking distance of their prey. Once in range, they unleash a burst of speed, using their powerful muscles and sharp claws to overpower the targeted animal. This combination of stealth and brute force ensures a successful kill.

Opportunistic Feeding

In addition to active hunting, lions also scavenge opportunistically. They take advantage of carcasses left behind by other predators or animals that have died from natural causes. This scavenging behavior helps supplement their diet during lean times or when a chance for an easy meal presents itself.

Read: Can lion climb trees?

Dietary Variations in Different Lion Populations

Lions exhibit some dietary variations based on their geographical location and habitat. For instance, lions living near riverine areas may have access to fish, while those in coastal regions may occasionally consume marine life. These dietary adaptations highlight the lion’s ability to adjust their feeding habits based on the available resources within their environment.

Read: how fast can a lion run?

Human-Lion Conflict and Alternative Food Sources

Human settlements and encroachment into lion territories have resulted in increased conflict between humans and lions. As their natural prey becomes scarce, lions may turn to domestic livestock for food, leading to economic losses for farmers and retaliatory killings of lions. To mitigate this conflict, conservationists and communities are exploring alternative food sources for lions, such as establishing well-managed game reserves and introducing natural prey species to ensure a balance between human needs and wildlife conservation.

what do lions eat?

Final Thoughts On What Do Lions Eat?

Lions are magnificent predators that have evolved to specialize in hunting a wide range of herbivores and smaller carnivores. Their cooperative hunting strategies, stealth, and opportunistic feeding enable them to thrive in their natural habitats. However, with increasing human presence, conservation efforts must focus on minimizing conflict and preserving the lion’s natural prey base to ensure the survival of these majestic creatures.


Do lions ever eat plants or grass?

Lions are primarily carnivores, but there have been rare instances of lions consuming grass or plant material. This behavior is believed to aid in digestion or may occur when prey is scarce.

Can lions eat other predators like hyenas or cheetahs?

While lions are capable of killing and eating other predators like hyenas or cheetahs, it is relatively rare. Lions usually prioritize hunting herbivores that provide a more substantial and accessible food source.

How much do lions eat in a day?

On average, adult lions consume around 10 to 15 pounds (4.5 to 7 kilograms) of meat per day. However, this can vary depending on the availability of prey and the size of the pride.

Do male lions participate in hunting?

Male lions often play a secondary role in hunting, as their primary responsibility is to defend the pride and its territory. However, they may join the hunt when targeting larger prey or during times of scarcity.

Are lions at risk of becoming extinct due to changes in their diet?

While changes in diet pose challenges for lions, their risk of extinction is primarily driven by habitat loss, poaching, and human-lion conflict. Conservation efforts are crucial to ensure their long-term survival.

Do lions eat humans?

While rare, there have been instances where lions have attacked and killed humans. However, it’s important to note that lions typically do not see humans as a natural prey source. Such incidents often occur when there is a disruption in the lion’s natural behavior, such as habitat encroachment or when humans unintentionally provoke or surprise lions.

Do lions eat grass?

No, lions are carnivores and do not eat grass as a part of their diet. Their digestive system is specialized for processing and extracting nutrients from meat. Grass and plant material are not a significant part of their food source.

Where do lions live?

Lions are found primarily in Africa, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where they inhabit various types of habitats such as grasslands, savannas, woodlands, and semi-arid regions. A smaller population of lions also exists in the Gir Forest of India.

What animal eats lions and tigers?

Lions and tigers, being apex predators, are generally not preyed upon by other animals in their natural habitats. However, in rare instances, when lions and tigers come into conflict with each other, they may engage in lethal territorial battles.

What animals do lions eat?

Lions prey on a variety of animals, primarily herbivores such as buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, warthogs, and gazelles. These animals make up the majority of a lion’s diet due to their abundance, availability, and nutritional value.

Do lions eat plants?

No, lions are obligate carnivores and do not consume plants as a significant part of their diet. They lack the specialized digestive system required to extract nutrients from plant material.

What does a tiger eat?

Tigers, like lions, are carnivores. They primarily prey on large herbivores such as deer, wild boars, and antelopes. Occasionally, tigers may also hunt smaller mammals, birds, and reptiles, depending on the availability of prey in their habitat.

Are lions carnivores?

Yes, lions are carnivores. They are apex predators that exclusively feed on meat and have evolved physical adaptations, such as sharp teeth and powerful jaws, to hunt and consume their prey effectively.


  • 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.

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