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Are Lions Threatened By Rhino?

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In October 2015 we posted this video of an unusual encounter between a pride of lion and a small crash of white rhino. The video inspired curiosity in viewer Mimi Freda who asked, "What I don't understand is why the lions feel threatened by one rhino? Lions have speed, teeth & claws. Rhino just has their horn and weight. Why is my theory obviously wrong? I would like to educate myself on this question."

Kariega field guide Joné, who filmed the encounter shares an informative and interesting answer to Mimi's question.

Are Lions Threatened by Rhino?

It seems pretty normal to expect that a lion would automatically be the predator and take down anything else. A lion is powerful and fast but fully grown rhinos are way too big for a lion to take down.

Rhinos are also very fast (not that they look like it) and very agile. They can turn easily to protect themselves with their horns. Even if the rhino has been dehorned, as we do to protect them at Kariega, they will still use their stump to protect themselves.

A lion will only go for a rhino if the rhino is injured and alone or a young calf that is alone. If the calve's mother is in the area she will protect her youngster with her life and this usually makes the lions think twice. 

We have often seen a rhino mother walking her calf towards a pride of lion. Of course this seems crazy but if the lions try anything she will attack them. It is almost like she is teaching her youngster what lions are capable of but when it gets too rough she will intervene.

Rhino skin is also very tough and it is just not worth a lions time and energy to go for a rhino as a meal.

Thanks Mimi for your great question and Jo for making us all a little wiser about the ways of lion and rhino! 

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