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Interspecies Conflict/interspecies conflict


QUESTION: hi again bk here are some more questions
220 kg bengal tiger vs 230 kg siberian tiger
large 200 pound puma vs gorilla
african lion vs bengal tiger at equal weight
gaur vs hippo
2 male 500 pound african lion vs 1200 pound polar bea

ANSWER: Hello Gautam.

bengal tiger (220kg) vs siberian tiger (230kg): These cats are physiologically similar.  Siberian tigers have thicker coats (an adaptation to a colder climate) that may help to buffer the blows of a rival, but it's not a huge advantage.  Both cats are capable of impressive feats in regards to hunting/fighting, and each one has adapted to be better at what they do in their own habitat.  As far as battling another large cat goes, no tiger species has a significant advantage over another.  The 10kg weight advantage enjoyed by the Siberian tiger isn't much, but it's probably just enough to give it the edge more times than not.  Slight edge to Siberian tiger.

large puma (200lb) vs gorilla: A large gorilla can weigh almost 2 1/3 heavier than the puma used here.  Pumas have many advantages over a gorilla in terms of combat (agility, quickness, athleticism, sharp claws, killing experience), and are powerful felines, but one will not have as much absolute strength as a gorilla over twice its size.  Gorillas have long, powerful arms that can be used to grab or apply blunt force, and have decent bites of their own.  The gorilla will have enough mobility to continue turning toward the puma to face it on most occasions, and the puma won't have the desire to tackle the ape head-on when giving up this much size.  Pumas can tackle prey items much larger than themselves, but these prey items usually don't have the ability to fend off the cat's attack once it gets into a good position.  Gorillas aren't used to taking on other large animals of another species in combat (they usually accomplish what they need to with an intimidating display), but the size & strength advantage it has over the puma here will give it the edge in this contest.  The puma's goal will be to get into that "killing bite" position, and it will be difficult to do with a large gorilla that's aware of its presence.  I would consider a big cat against an ape twice its size to be a close fight on most occasions, but this gorilla will be over twice the puma's size, and that will be enough to overcome the cat's weaponry.  Slight edge to the gorilla.

african lion vs bengal tiger (at equal weight): Lions form prides, and this aids them in hunting.  The lionesses do the majority of the hunting (the males seldom join in), but the male lion is charged with the protection of the pride.  Other male lions will attempt to invade the pride to gain territory & females, and the leader of the pride must do battle to keep his throne.  As a result, male lions are constantly fighting other male lions.  This is a big reason that the average lifespan of a male lion is 5 years less than the average lifespan of a lioness.  Even at kills, lions will fight amongst themselves for their share of the food.  Tigers are usually solitary hunters (hunting in pairs has occurred), but males will fight over territory.  In regards to prey items, tigers can ambush and kill large prey on its own (gaur & buffalo).  The male lion isn't as practiced a hunter as the tiger (lionesses do most of the hunting for it), but there is a big difference between hunting and fighting.  For example, the cheetah is a fantastic hunter, but is a poor fighter.  In fighting skill, I would probably give the lion the nod over the tiger.  The lion's mane is also worth mentioning.  Although its main purpose is for intimidation & attracting females, it can soften the impact of blows from another cat, so it probably can be considered an advantage.  At equal weights, I slightly favor the lion.

gaur vs hippo: A hippo can weigh twice as much as a gaur.  Gaurs are powerful, muscular bovids with thick curved horns.  They are fierce fighters, and can use their horns to impale attackers.  The thick-skinned hippopotamus can open its jaws over a meter wide, and has long, lower canines used for slashing and forward-protruding lower incisors used primarily for thrusting (in conflicts).  Hippos are able to move about on land, but their legs are too small (compared to their heavy bodies) to enable them to maintain a prolonged terrestrial lifestyle.  They are well-adapted to the water where their large bodies have buoyancy.  A gaur will have a decent mobility advantage on land, but it will need an accumulation of horn strikes to overcome the hippo.  Hippos are somewhat cumbersome on land, but are capable of quick movements in short bursts.  The gaur won't be able to maintain a consistent attack without eventually putting itself in range of the hippo's huge jaws, and can be bowled over if the larger animal charges onto it.  A determined gaur can succeed in driving a hippo away if the encounter is entirely on land (hippos are much less territorial & assertive on land), but will have too much of a size disadvantage to win (on most occasions) if the hippo stands its ground.  I would favor a gaur at close weights, but the hippo will typically have too much size.  Edge to hippo.

2 male african lions (500 pounds each) vs polar bear (1200 pounds): Polar bears are extremely strong (battle walruses, pull large seals out of the water, punch holes through thick ice), and have very good endurance (can swim many miles without stopping).  Lions are fantastic predators that routinely tackle large prey items (cape buffalo, eland, zebra, wildebeest, etc.), but the females do most of the hunting and would have better teamwork than the males in a confrontation like this.  The only reasonable way for the lions to succeed here is to secure a throat bite, but it will be difficult for them to penetrate the polar bear's defenses (bites & paw swipes) without being injured in the process.  Lions don't encounter bears in the wild, but are capable of overcoming larger animals using a numbers advantage.  A pair of 500lb lions would have a good chance of subduing a 1200lb cape buffalo (because they can neutralize the horns with the right positioning), but a bear's weaponry (jaws & swiping paws) and flexibility (which is better than a bovid's) poses a different type of challenge that increases the difficulty level.  Because bears have amazing stamina, one will continue to battle strongly after the lions succumb to fatigue.  The 2 lions can certainly pull this off, but the polar bear's advantages in size, strength, durability, & endurance will be enough to favor it more times than not.  Edge to polar bear.

Best regards.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi again bk,about the lions vs polar bear dont you think lions can do it because male lions also hunt when they are thrown out of the pride .I know that polar bear is a formidable opponent but still cant the lions kill the bear the same  as they kill a buffalo here are some more questions
Gorilla vs jaguar
Spotted hyena vs cougar
Giant forest hog vs large 350 pound jaguar
How many male lions would it it take to kill a bull elephant in musth
200 pound leopard vs 230 pound puma
Thank you

Hello again Gautam.

Q: About the lions vs polar bear, don't you think lions can do it?  Male lions also hunt when they are thrown out of the pride. I know that polar bear is a formidable opponent, but still can't the lions kill the bear the same as they kill a buffalo?
A: As I mentioned, the lions can certainly pull this off, but the bear will be a bit too big & strong for them to succeed on most occasions.  Male lions can be good hunters, but they aren't quite as practiced at it as lionesses are.  A buffalo is an opponent lions are accustomed to dealing with, but a bear is not.  Lions can avoid the horns of a buffalo and get into a good position to apply a throat bite at which point the buffalo will find it hard to fight back (it can not use its horns effectively anymore with a lion clinging to its neck with its paws & clamping its jaws on its throat).  A bear is a more supple animal that would be able to use its paws & claws to control positioning & inflict injury even if a lion grabbed onto its neck area.  The bear has better means to fight back against a lion at close quarters than a buffalo does.  A polar bear weighing 1200lb will have too many assets to not be favored against 2 500lb lions.  Close fight, yes, but the polar bear will have the edge.

gorilla vs jaguar: A jaguar will weigh about 2/3rd the gorilla's weight.  Jaguars are the strongest cat pound-for-pound, and they have stocky bodies with short, powerful legs.  Their bite force is high enough to pierce turtle shells & caiman armor, and they typically bite through a victim's skull to dispatch it.  Gorilla are muscular animals with strong bites, grabbing hands, & powerful clubbing forearms.  Gorillas aren't accustomed to taking on large animals of another species.  An angry gorilla might succeed in intimidating a jaguar into a retreat on some occasions, but a jaguar intent on completing a kill will be able to do so more times than not.  The jaguar's bite, claws, & killing experience will be enough to overcome the gorilla's size & strength.  The cat will close in on the gorilla and use its agility & quickness to find a good location to sink its teeth into.  Jaguar wins.

spotted hyena vs cougar: The cougar can weigh over 40% more than the hyena.  Spotted hyenas are tough, durable animals that can withstand attack better than most predators.  Their fearsome jaws have bone-crushing power.  The toughness & jaw power are the main assets the hyena brings to the table in this encounter.  The cougar is agile, quick, and has solo killing experience.  Its claws give it the ability to swipe & clinch, and they can aid the cat in dominating the position battle with the hyena (and land a bite on the throat or muzzle to induce suffocation).  The hyena's movements are somewhat clumsy, but it should still be able to land a bite or two before the cougar takes it off its feet.  In a realistic encounter the hyena would likely drive the cougar away, but if both parties are determined to rumble, the cougar will have too many advantages.  It would take a long time for the cougar to completely dispatch the hyena, but it should gain the upper hand (or paw) most of the time before too much time has passed.  At closer weights the cougar would have a real battle on its hands, but with the weight advantage it enjoys, it should prevail against the hyena more times than not.  Cougar wins.

giant forest hog vs large jaguar (350 pounds): The giant forest hog will weigh almost 75% more than this large jaguar, and will be over 50% taller at the shoulder.  Giant forest hogs can be very dangerous (have sharp tusks & can make quick turns), and have tough hides that afford them protection from many attacks.  Jaguars are among the strongest cats pound-for-pound, and have vice-like jaws capable of crushing turtle shells (and puncturing skulls).  This adaptation gives the jaguar a unique weapon in its arsenal.  The big cat's short, stocky build is perfect for engaging & controlling low-to-the-ground adversaries, and it will need to use its paws to grip onto the forest hog's front half to neutralize the slashing tusks of the suid.  As the smaller peccary (a wild boar-like animal) can give a jaguar fits, the felid will need to be extremely careful with a suid larger than itself.  A jaguar would probably avoid a giant forest hog in a normal encounter (and seek easier prey), and would have trouble gaining control of one due to the weight difference.  Jaguars prey on tapirs (which can exceed the weight of a giant forest hog), but these animals aren't as formidable as a forest hog would be.  The jaguar is capable of winning here, but it's giving up too much size to do so consistently.  A giant forest hog would be a dangerous adversary for an African lion (which is much larger than the jaguar).  Giant forest hog wins.   

Q: How many male lions would it it take to kill a bull elephant in musth?
A: A bull African elephant can weigh over 6 tons (over 20 times as much as a large male African lion).  When they are in musth, they get extremely aggressive and will indiscriminately attack any animal within its range (including humans).  Groups of lions have killed elephants before, but these are usually subadults, females, or unhealthy ones.  Lions will attack an elephant from behind (to avoid the weapons in the front), and will use their weight to eventually drag the huge mammal to the ground.  In the case of a full-grown male elephant in musth, this technique won't be as successful.  The lions will be constantly challenged at every turn (as opposed to a typical target that may try to flee), and may get trampled or gored in their attack attempt.  A throat bite won't be a plausible option for the lions here, and wearing this huge pachyderm down (by fatigue or blood loss) will be a very difficult task that will take a long time to accomplish.  A bull elephant will be 3 times taller at the shoulder than a male lion, and will be almost impossible to hang on to.  For a size ratio, imagine how many Arabian leopards (the smallest type of leopard) it would take to bring down a cape buffalo (or how many African leopards it would take to bring down a black rhinoceros)!  Even an enormous lion pride wouldn't likely attempt this due to the risk of injury & death, but if a group of males was determined to do so anyway, it would require a large number of them (at least 12; perhaps as many as 16).      

200 pound leopard vs 230 pound puma: Both of these cats have agility, athleticism, quickness, great weaponry (jaws & claws), & killing know-how.  Pumas can subdue cervids (like elk) many times heavier than themselves, and leopards are famous for dragging large prey items into trees.  Both cats occasionally battle other species of animals; leopards deal with lions, hyenas, baboons, etc. & pumas deal with bears, wolves, etc.  The leopard has a more muscular head and shoulder area (and is stronger pound-for-pound), but the cougar has longer legs and a better reach.  At parity I would favor the leopard, but with the weight advantage here I would slightly favor the cougar.

Best regards.

Interspecies Conflict

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Questions regarding animal conflicts within realistic or unrealistic settings are welcome; my strength lies in medium-to-large species. Small animals (including birds of prey), prehistoric animals, sea creatures, and domestic dog breeds are usually within my scope, but to a lesser degree. I can't confidently answer hypothetical questions about human vs animal, arachnids, insects, or amphibians, but I am willing to field them nonetheless.


From a young age, I have been interested in animals. Starting with the original Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and World Book Encyclopedias, I have seen many animal shows and documentaries and have read multiple books on the subject. I have a solid understanding of the physiology of many animals and interspecies conflict in general.

Associate degree in unrelated field; biology classes in college.

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