Interspecies Conflict/3 vs 1


Hi again BK, its nice to be talking to you again as usual and as usual I've got more interesting animal battles. So my question today is who will win these 3 vs 1 matchups? Here is the list.

1.White Rhino vs 3 Cape Buffalo
2.African Elephant vs 3 Hippos
3.Gorilla vs 3 Spotted Hyenas
4.Cougar vs 3 Wolverines
5.Cape Buffalo vs 3 Leopards
6.Killer Whale vs 3 Walrus
7.Siberian Tiger vs 3 Jaguars
8.Black Rhino vs 3 Lions
9.Kodiak bear vs 3 Black bears
10.Hippo vs 3 Bengal Tigers
11.Lion vs 3 Leopards
12.African Elephant vs 3 Nile Crocodiles
13.Grizzly bear vs 3 Gorillas
14.White Rhino vs 3 Polar bears
15.Bengal Tiger vs 3 Gray Wolves
16.Sperm Whale vs 3 Killer Whales
17.Gaur vs 3 Wild boars
18.American Bison vs 3 Jaguars

Thank You

Hello Trish.

1. White Rhino vs 3 Cape Buffalo: The white rhino will weigh more than all 3 Cape buffaloes combined.  The white rhino possesses perhaps the greatest weapon among land animals (the longer of a pair of nose horns), and its ability to make turns and thrusts with great force give it the means to quickly dispatch the 3 Cape buffaloes.  The buffalos have sharp hooves and thick horns, but these won't be very effective against the tough skin and tank-like build of the much larger rhino.  The rhino is also sturdy and well-based, but the Cape buffaloes can easily be knocked over by the rhino's charge.  Cape buffaloes are aggressive and dangerous, but white rhinos are on a completely different level in regards to combat.  White rhino wins.

2. African Elephant vs 3 Hippos: The African elephant will weigh at least twice as much as each hippo.  The African elephant is a tremendously powerful animal with sharp tusks, and it practically immune from attack from other wildlife once full-grown.  Hippos are considered to be the most dangerous of all large land animals, and they have wide-opening jaws with sharp canines (to bite and slash with) and forward-pointing incisors (to stab with).  A hippo's teeth can be very effective against a rival hippo or a predator like a crocodile, but using them effectively against an elephant with a shoulder height well over double their own will be a challenge.  The hippos won't move as well on land as the elephant will, and won't be able to apply their offense as well as the tusked pachyderm will.  It's possible a trio of hippos can drive an elephant away with a coordinated attack (especially in shallow water), but to defeat one determined to fight back will be a monumental task.  The hippos may have a chance in water deep enough to impede the elephant's mobility, but with all locations considered, the elephant will be too big and strong.  African elephant wins.

3. Gorilla vs 3 Spotted Hyenas: The gorilla will weigh about as much as all 3 spotted hyenas combined.  A gorilla is a brutally strong ape with long arms (spanning 8 1/2ft) and very strong jaws with 2" canine teeth.  Gorillas aren't practiced at dealing with animals outside of their own species (their only real enemy in the wild is the leopard), and a single gorilla would be in trouble against multiple opponents without having the experience needed to deal with them.  Spotted hyenas work well as a group when hunting or fighting, and will sometimes harass lions and leopards.  They are very durable animals with pear-shaped heads and powerful bone-crushing jaws.  This fight won't be a force-on-force encounter, but a strategy in which the hyenas will surround and eventually wear down the gorilla with bites.  Realistically the gorilla may be able to keep the hyenas at bay with an aggressive display, but will succumb to the hyenas if they are determined to attack relentlessly.  Spotted hyenas win.

4. Cougar vs 3 Wolverines: The cougar will weigh 5 times as much as each wolverine.  A single wolverine can drive a cougar away, and 3 of them working in one accord can easily accomplish this.  Defeating the larger cat in a fight, however, is another matter.  A cougar can't easily kill a wolverine, but will easily dominate the positioning in a scuffle.  Each party will be biting and clawing effectively, but the larger cougar will have a better chance to inflict a serious injury than any of the mustelids.  The wolverines "working in one accord" won't be the same as a trio of animals that are practiced at working as a team (wolves, hyenas, lionesses, etc.), and that will be what keeps them from dominating this encounter.  As mentioned, the wolverines will realistically drive the cougar away, but a serious battle will favor the larger predator if it has no other choice than to stay and fight.  Overall edge to cougar.

5. Cape Buffalo vs 3 Leopards: The Cape buffalo will weigh over 7 times as much as each leopard.  A Cape buffalo is a dangerous prey target for lions, and many times a trio of lionesses will fail to overpower one.  The horns and hooves of the Cape buffalo are dangerous weapons that can easily injure a lion, and it takes a pride a long to actually kill the bovid even when the hunt is successful.  A leopard is a fantastic hunter that can kill herbivores larger than itself and drag them up into a tree, but it is a solitary hunter, and a trio of these cats won't cooperate like a trio of lionesses will.  A lioness weighs twice as much as a leopard, so 3 leopards won't have the power to bring a Cape buffalo to the ground and they would struggle to asphyxiate one (with a throat bite) if they could.  Cape buffalo wins.

6. Killer Whale vs 3 Walruses: The killer whale will weigh more than all 3 walruses combined.  A killer whale can weigh as much as an African elephant and measure almost 30ft in length.  This mammal has 4" teeth in its jaws that are made to hold and tear, and its speed and mobility in the water can be impressive.  Walruses are reasonably mobile in the water as well, but aren't as fast as a killer whale.  These pinnipeds have tusks that can measure 3ft in length, and can use them to impale adversaries.  The walruses won't work together like a group of pack animals will, and might not be quick enough to use their tusks effectively before being injured by the orca's jaws.  Killer whales attack seals from the rear to avoid their sharp teeth, and it's plausible that a killer whale will avoid this situation altogether to avoid injury.  If the killer whale is determined to overcome the 3 walruses, it has the tools to do so, but will likely get injured at some point during the process.  Edge to killer whale.

7. Siberian Tiger vs 3 Jaguars: The Siberian tiger will weigh over twice as much as each jaguar.  A huge factor in these 3-vs-1 matchups is whether or not the "3" are practiced at fighting as a group.  Jaguars are solitary hunters, and it's unlikely that a trio of them will work as a group to overpower a common foe (2 jaguars that cross paths might actually fight one another).  A Siberian tiger is generally considered to be the world's largest cat (although their current size is not as large as their size in the past), and one will measure 45% taller at the shoulder than a jaguar.  This huge cat can easily kill as single jaguar, and can fight strongly enough against 3 of them to make them retreat.  If the Siberian tiger's opponents were 300lb lionesses instead of 300lb jaguars, I might actually side with the lionesses because of their propensity to work together when fighting a common opponent.  A jaguar has an extremely powerful bite and is the strongest big cat on a pound-for-pound basis, but a trio of them will have trouble with a huge Siberian tiger that has a much greater strength and reach advantage.  This can be an interesting fight, but edge to the Siberian tiger.  

8. Black Rhino vs 3 Lions: The black rhino will weigh twice as much as all 3 lions combined.  Prides of lions have killed black rhinos from time-to-time, but many cats are usually required to tackle this formidable herbivore.  Like the white rhino, the black rhino has a tank-like build, tough hide, sharp nose horns, and the ability to make forceful turns and thrusts with its body.  3 male lions will work together better than most other cats, but male lions don't typically do the hunting, and 3 lionesses will be better at a group attack than these males will.  However, a male lion is usually 35-45% heavier than a lioness and much more powerful.  A full-grown black rhino is a much more difficult quarry to overpower than any bovid on the planet, and 3 males lions will have trouble with a large Cape buffalo (but can certainly kill one).  A rhino is harder to knock over than any buffalo, has much tougher skin, has better weaponry, and is physically much stronger.  Executing a throat bite on a stocky rhino is a tall task for any big cat, and wearing it down with injuries (clawing and biting) will take a great deal of time (and give the rhino plenty of opportunities to kill its attackers).  The 3 lions can pull this off, but they won't be favored.  Black rhino wins.

9. Kodiak bear vs 3 Black bears: The Kodiak bear will weigh almost as much as all 3 black bears combined.  I mentioned that the gorilla vs 3 hyenas matchup would not be a force-on-force encounter, but this matchup is an example of one that will be.  Bears don't usually have a killing strategy that doesn't fall under the umbrella of "brutalization".  The Kodiak bear will swipe, grab, bite, and claw at any black bear within range of its mighty forelimbs and powerful jaws, and the black bears' lack of pack-fighting skills will make their numbers advantage one of little consequence.  3 black bears magically working as a team and forming a strategy might have a good chance, but even then it will be hard for each black bear to avoid the Kodiak bear's offense as the battle ensues.  The Kodiak bear is a more powerfully built animal at parity, and being almost 3 times heavier gives it a giant advantage in the offense department.  Realistically, the black bears won't go anywhere near this huge brown bear.  Edge to Kodiak bear.    

10. Hippo vs 3 Bengal Tigers: The hippo will weigh almost 10 times as much as each Bengal tiger.  Where this battle takes place will be important.  A hippo is very territorial and combative at the river's edge, and this huge animal can move rather well in shallow water.  Bengal tigers will readily enter water to pursue and capture prey, and they aren't strangers to fighting in that location.  The hippo will have more of an advantage in the water against the tigers than it will on dry land, and the difference might actually change the outcome.  A hippo has a fearsome set of jaws (as described earlier), and skin that can be up to 6" thick.  Tigers have sharp claws and teeth that can do significant damage to many animals, and a single tiger is probably the most capable predator when it comes to overpowering large prey animals.  However, the 3 tigers will need a lot of time to claw and bite their way through the hippo's thick skin, and the hippo's active resistance will make this an arduous task.  The tigers will be quick enough to avoid the jaws of the hippo (which isn't as comfortable or as skilled at making quick movements on land as it is in shallow water), but may get tired before they cause enough damage to kill the huge animal.  The Bengal tiger is usually a solitary hunter, but will occasionally hunt in pairs (if the 2 cats are related, for example).  If the 3 tigers work together, they will eventually be able to defeat the hippo if it has no real access to water.  The tigers will need to be persistent and cautious, and their greater speed and mobility will be a key factor in a land battle.  If they can leap upon the rear of the hippo and attack from there, their chances of receiving an injury will be smaller.  Close to 50/50 in shallow water depending on depth; edge to Bengal tigers on land.  

11. Lion vs 3 Leopards: The lion will weigh almost as much as all 3 leopards combined.  This will be similar to the Siberian tiger vs the 3 jaguars, but the lion's size advantage over the leopards will be greater, thus his chances will be greater.  Both parties will have similar attributes (speed, athleticism, explosive movements, jaws, claws, etc.), but the lion's much larger size will make his arsenal much more effective.  In addition, the leopards won't strategize like a trio of lionesses will, and they will realistically avoid this encounter without exception.  If a male lion can handle 5 spotted hyenas that are used to working together, then it can handle 3 leopards that aren't.  Lion wins.     

12. African Elephant vs 3 Nile Crocodiles: The African elephant will weigh twice as much as all 3 Nile crocodiles combined.  A Nile crocodile has a set of jaws that can close with tremendous force, and it used them to seize a prey item so it can be pulled underwater to drown.  It would be very uncomfortable to an elephant if a Nile crocodile clamped onto its trunk or ear, but the pachyderm is practically immune to a Nile crocodile attack when full-grown regardless of location.  Even if the elephant was swimming across a deep river when the 3 Nile crocodiles attacked, it would be too large and strong for the reptiles to pull it under or have much effect on its movements with almost no exceptions.  The elephant would be strong enough to swim to shore with the crocodiles attached to it and simply drag them out of the water with it.  It's possible that a trio of crocodiles could attach themselves to the face of a swimming elephant (deep water) and have a slim chance of impeding its movement enough to drown it, but that would be a freak occurrence.  On land an African elephant could stand perfectly still while 3 crocodiles attempted to attack it and have absolutely nothing to worry about.  African elephant wins.

13. Grizzly bear vs 3 Gorillas: The grizzly bear will weigh over twice as much as each gorilla.  This is an example of what an animal is capable of doing being different than what the animal will actually do.  A grizzly bear can easily kill a gorilla (the presence of the bear's claws is a huge advantage) and cause a lot of damage to one in a short amount of time.  Three gorillas that are members of the same troop may coordinate their efforts to scare an intruder away, but the combative grizzly bear won't be intimated easily.  Realistically I favor the gorillas to eventually drive the grizzly away with their bluffing, but in an actual battle with a determined grizzly the gorillas won't have the know-how to proceed with an effective-enough attack to defeat it.  Gorillas aren't ever put in a situation where they need to group together to drive a large opponent away.  Nothing that lives near them fits that description.  If the 3 gorilla worked together (like chimps do from time-to-time to attack a rival) as a unit and used their strong arms and sharp teeth in the most optimal way possible, they would probably have a decent chance to defeat the grizzly bear.  Bears have great endurance and can fight strongly for long periods of time, and most are practiced at fighting other bears.  Gorillas rarely get into serious fights with one another.  The grizzly will be better armed, more practiced at fighting, and twice as large as each gorilla.  On paper it looks like a trio of gorillas could easily defeat a single grizzly, but what the gorillas are physically capable of doing and what actions they will actually perform will not be the same.  I'm actually going with the grizzly bear here.

14. White Rhino vs 3 Polar bears: The white rhino will easily weigh more than all 3 polar bears combined.  Polar bears are immensely powerful, but they aren't practiced at tackling large, mobile animals.  Polar bears have killed muskox, but this is a rare occurrence that is dependent on the polar bear being in the right place at the right time during the season.  This doesn't happen enough to grant the polar bear "expert" status at killing herbivores the size of a muskox; it's actually something the polar bear isn't very adept at.  During the warmer seasons when the polar bear doesn't have the advantage of solid ice sheets (which the bear needs to effectively hunt seals), its options as a hunter are quite slim.  It is during times like this when a polar bear might kill something (like a mobile animal) that it usually doesn't encounter on a regular basis.  Polar bears do kill walruses, though.  Walruses are huge (some over twice as heavy as a polar bear), but they don't move well on land.  Even a walrus weighing the same as a polar bear is not an easy kill at all (very tough hide and sharp tusks), and full-grown bull walruses have nothing to fear from a polar bear.  The white rhino will pose major problems for the 3 polar bears.  It will be much larger and stronger than any bull walrus, and it will be much more mobile.  In addition, the horn of the rhino will be much harder to avoid than the tusks of a bull walrus.  The polar bears won't have the strength to hold the rhino still enough to inflict any damage with their claws and teeth (and this will be hard anyway considering the tough skin of the white rhino), and they won't have the lateral quickness to avoid getting gored or trampled by the larger animal.  White rhino wins.

15. Bengal Tiger vs 3 Gray Wolves: The Bengal tiger will weigh about 4 1/2 times as much as each gray wolf.  Gray wolves are great at working together to bring down a large prey item, but a Bengal tiger will be a tougher challenge than a typical herbivore will be.  The quick reflexes and athleticism of the Bengal tiger will give it the ability to quickly turn and engage any gray wolf that gets close (front or back) with a strong bite or sharp claws, and the wolves will risk injury when employing their "bite and retreat" strategy.  A Bengal tiger can easily cripple or kill a single gray wolf, and wolves typically won't engage high-risk opponents.  For a comparison, it usually takes 3 spotted hyenas to match a lioness and 5 to match a lion, and a spotted hyena is comparable to a gray wolf in terms of how formidable it is.  3 gray wolves won't be enough to deter a tiger; at least 6 will be needed to have a chance.  Wolves have much better endurance than tigers, but the tiger will be able to kill these 3 wolves before stamina comes into play.  Bengal tiger wins.

16. Sperm Whale vs 3 Killer Whales: The sperm whale will weigh over 7 times as much and measure twice as long as each killer whale.  A sperm whale has banana-sized teeth on it lower jaw, and it has a huge square-shaped head that can be used as a battering ram.  A bull sperm whale is the most powerful one-on-one combatant in the ocean, but even it will be fearful of a trio of killer whales.  The killer whales will have greater speed and mobility, and will be experienced at working together and taking on animals larger than themselves.  It may take some time and it will be risky, but the 3 killer whales will be able attack from all sides and eventually wear the sperm whale down.  The sperm whale may be able to turn the tide if it can injure one of the orcas early on, but it will be in trouble on most occasions.  Edge to 3 killer whales.

17. Gaur vs 3 Wild boars: The gaur will weigh almost 7 times as much as each wild boar.  A gaur is the world's largest wild bovid, and it is armed with thick curved horns and sharp hooves.  It has a powerful, muscular body.  The gaur is sometimes predated upon by the Bengal tiger, but a large bull can be an very dangerous undertaking for the striped hunter.  Wild boars are nimble suids with tough hides and sharp tusks.  They are prey items in many parts of the world, and are practiced at defending themselves.  The wild boars will be quicker than the gaur, but they won't likely work together as a team in this fight, and any solid strike from the gaur can potentially dispatch any of the boars.  The wild boars will be in range of the gaur's kicks each time they approach, and their tusks won't be able to easily reach any vital areas on the much larger animal.  A trio of huge Russian wild boars (about 25% of the gaur's weight) might have a chance if they magically coordinated their efforts, but in a realistic situation the gaur will be large enough to dominate.  Gaur wins.  

18. American Bison vs 3 Jaguars: The American bison will weigh over 7 times as much as each jaguar and will measure over 2 1/2 times taller at the shoulder than the cat.  The American bison is accustomed to battling multiple opponents (gray wolves), and can injure attackers easily with its sharp hooves.  A bison's horns are curved and sharp, and it will use them to hook into adversaries when it opts not to use its head like a battering ram.  Jaguars are experts at killing reptiles (like caiman and anacondas) and low-to-the-ground prey items like tapirs and peccaries.  Although they have been known to kill livestock, there's no wild animal resembling a bison that the jaguar is accomplished at killing.  As mentioned before, the trio of jaguars probably won't work together well at all, and the bison will be much too powerful for the cats to deal with.  These jaguars might have a chance against a moose (1,600lb), but not a 2,200lb bison.  In a past matchup assessment ("Battles for supremacy" from 11/15/13) I stated that an American bison vs 2 lions would be a close fight, so I don't give the smaller jaguars a great chance here.  The jaguars won't be entirely without hope (and that's only with cooperation), but they definitely won't be favored.  American bison wins.

Excellent set of questions!  Very interesting showdowns.

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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