african lion vs hyena
african lion vs hyena

Overview: African Lion vs Hyena

African Lions and Spotted hyenas are native to sub-Saharan Africa. Both are carnivorous having immense strength and power; they hunt large mammals like cape buffaloes, zebra, wildebeests, etc. Hyenas have a wide presence across Africa while the population of lions is less compared to the hyenas. Lions are the second-largest members of the Felidae family after tigers whereas hyenas have their own family Hyaenidae and they are the sole representative of it. As they share the same habitat, the possibility of a confrontation between lions and hyenas is quite high. What would happen if “king of the savannah” has an animal duel with “laughing hyena”? ; To know the winner go through this article. 

Physical Traits:

Lions are the second-largest cat of the big cat family after the tiger. Male lions are about 20-30% larger in size and are 50% heavier than their female counterparts. Lions have a muscular body, big head, long canines, strong jaws, and sharp claws; these all are the perfect combination to make a lion apex predator. Lions have different colorations they may vary from white to tawny yellow, slightly ochre, ash brown. Lion has distinct “whisker spots” which are different in every lion; the top row of whiskers forms a pattern through which a lion can be identified as they remain the same throughout their life.

Spotted Hyenas have a sandy-yellowish, grey coat with black or brown coloured spots. They have body length ranging between 95-150 cm, a shoulder height of about 75-85 cm. Sexual dimorphism is present in hyenas; female hyenas weigh more than their male counterparts. An adult female can weigh approximately 55-70 kg while males are 45-60 kg. Hyenas have strong jaws, a massive neck, longer front legs, non-retractable claws, and slightly sloped back.

Behavioural traits:

Lions are quite social; they live in pride which contains 2-40 members. Each pride has a dominant male which takes care of its territory and drives away other intruding male lions. Once a dominant male of the pride gets defeated by the outsider, he leaves the pride whereas the winning outsider takes the pride and kills all the cubs less than 2 years old to make the lionesses ready to mate. Like lions, Hyenas also live in groups/community called as clan which is composed of 3-80 members. Once male attains the sexual maturity they leave the clan and go in search of another one whereas females live in their natal clan for the whole life. Female hyenas are more dominant than male hyenas; although they hunt together females have more right to the fresh kill. Hyenas also follow strict hierarchical order. 

Geographical Traits:

African lions are found in sub-Saharan Africa with 80% of their population living in eastern or southern Africa. Hyenas are also natives of sub-Saharan Africa; their density widely varies across Africa. They are found in South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, Congo, Nigeria, Namibia, Senegal, Cameroon, Sudan, Burkina Faso, Mali, Botswana, and Sierra Leone. Hyenas have a high population density in Serengeti and Ngoro Ngoro crater, Tanzania.


African lions prefer to live in grasslands and savannahs; they are found in the grassland of East Africa, the Kalahari Desert, and the south Sahara Desert. Hyenas live in the varied habitat which includes semi-desert, acacia bush, savannah, and mountainous forests. However, they don’t prefer to live in dense forests and coastal forests; they can be seen most in savannahs grasslands.


Lion’s diet includes large animals like giraffes, wild buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, impala, etc. Lions usually hunt with pride; they take care of their pride members too, if any member of the pride gets injured or wounded the food is provided to it. The dominant lion rarely participates in the hunting as the hunt is mainly done by the female; the male lion takes whatever it wants after the kill. Hyenas too are carnivores; they are scavengers as well as skilled excellent hunters. They can kill large animals like Cape buffalo, wildebeest, antelope, zebra, etc. 

Amazing Fact:

  • The bite force of an adult hyena is 1100 pounds per inch which are way more than the bite force of a lion (650 psi) and tiger (1,050 psi).

African Lion vs Hyena Fight, who will win?

The possibility of pride of African lions encountering the hyena clan is quite high as they share similar habitat. Pride of lion has 2-40 members whereas the hyena clan can contain approximately 80 hyenas. When it comes face to face lion is way bigger and stronger than its rival; an adult lion can kill a hyena in a couple of seconds. But if a lion gets in the way of the hyena clan and hyenas will have the upper hand due to their number; they can kill a lion. Here, we declare the winner based on one on one faceoff, hence, the ‘king of savannah’ would be the winner.

Comparison Chart: African Lion vs Hyena

Comparison HeadsAfrican LionSpotted Hyena
SpeciesP. LeoC. Corcutta
Found inSub-Saharan AfricaSub-Saharan Africa
Weight331-550 lbs (males), 243-401 (females)88-190 lbs
Body Length5.5-8.3 feet (males), 4.5-5.5 feet( females)4.7-5.9 feet
Lifespan12-15 years in wild; in captivity can live upto 30 years10-12 years

Comparison Video: African Lion vs Hyena

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