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Interspecies Conflict/Africa vs North America


Hi again BK, its great to be talking to you again via the internet and as usual I've got more interesting animal questions. Here goes.

1. Lets say there was an all out war between African animals and North American animals who do you think would win it? My money is on Africa because I believe there are a lot more formidable animals over there.

2. Lets say these North American animals were moved to Africa, which animals do you think would pray on them or for some come into predatory conflict with?


Gray Wolves

American Bison







3.Lets say a Clan of Spotted Hyenas were put in North America, would there be any predators that would be able to challenge them considering there pack numbers?

Thank You

Hello Trish.

1. Lets say there was an all out war between African animals and North American animals who do you think would win it?

A: I agree with you.  The elephant, rhinoceros, and hippopotamus would be the heavyweights in this war.  Nothing North American has to offer can stand up to these 3 huge beasts.  Here is a basic top-15 list (reasonably close to being in order) of the most formidable land animals that would be participating and where they are from:

1. African elephant (Africa)
2. White rhinoceros (Africa)
3. Forest elephant (Africa)
4. Black rhinoceros (Africa)
5. Common hippopotamus (Africa)
6. Giraffe (Africa)
7. American Bison (North America)
8. Cape buffalo (Africa)
9. Kodiak bear (North America)
10. Polar bear (North America)
11. Grizzly bear (North America)
12. Lion (Africa)
13. Eland (Africa)
14. Moose (North America)
15. Elk (North America)

Africa dominates this list.  Africa also has giant forest hog, zebra, leopard, hyena, and many others.  North America has muskox, cougar, wolf, wild boar, caribou, and many others.  If aquatic animals that can come on land are considered, some of the "heavy hitters" would be walrus (North America), Northern elephant seal (North America), Nile crocodile (Africa), and the American alligator (North America), but Africa would still have the upper hand overall.  If we only use land predators, I would actually favor North America if one of each animal is used.  North America's top 5 would be Kodiak bear, polar bear, grizzly bear, black bear, & cougar.  Africa's top 5 would be lion, leopard, spotted hyena, brown hyena, & striped hyena.

2. Lets say these North American animals were moved to Africa, which animals do you think would prey on them or for some come into predatory conflict with?
A: If we consider climate and habitat, some of the introduced animals won't fare well (primarily because of heat or lack of cover).  While there are some areas that may be suitable habitats for the introduced animals in regards to cover, there are some of them (moose, wolverine, etc.) that won't find a place cold enough to give them a comfortable lifestyle.  

Cougar: The cougar will need cover for ambush and protection.  It wouldn't be targeted as a prey item unless it entered the water with a Nile crocodile.  A cougar is about as formidable as a leopard, so the animals that threaten the leopard (lions, hyenas, baboon troops, African wild dog packs) would be able to threaten the cougar.  Although not likely, the African rock python could be a threat under the right circumstances.  A honey badger won't kill a cougar, but may be aggressive toward the cat.  Jackals may harass the cougar, but will be too small to seriously harm it.  A cheetah will back down from a cougar, and a leopard would possibly fight with the cougar under the right circumstances (and it would be an even fight).  

Gray Wolves: Gray wolves are very adaptable, and many places in Africa would be suitable, but the cooler climates would be the best for the canids.  The wolves would learn to avoid waterways with crocodiles in them.  Lions kill any other predator when they can, and the wolves would be no exception.  It would take at least 5 or 6 wolves to contend with a male lion, and probably 4 to deal with a lioness.  Lions deal with spotted hyenas often, so they will be somewhat accustomed to combat with multiple animals.  Gray wolves from North America don't deal with any cat bigger than a cougar, so they will avoid any lion if possible.  2 gray wolves will be needed to chase away a leopard, and the leopard probably won't target them as an actual prey item.  The cheetah will run from the wolves, and so will African wild dogs that don't have a numbers advantage.  Gray wolves will probably fight with hyenas from time-to-time (especially at a carcass), and the edge will probably go to the larger group on most occasions.  Only lions and crocodiles will be a threat to hunt a wolf for food.   

American Bison: The American bison will likely carve a niche similar to the smaller Cape buffalo, but probably in a cooler area.  There will be 4 African predators that will be able to prey upon this huge herbivore (largest land animal in North America), and those are lions, spotted hyenas (only a large clan), Nile crocodiles (if the bovids frequent the river's edge), and African wild dogs (subadult bison only).  The leopard may grab a young bison, but with an adult around, the cat won't have great success.

Moose: The moose will need to inhabit the coolest areas of Africa to live comfortably, and that won't be easy considering this cervid is at home in very cold temperatures.  A moose is just about as formidable as a giant eland, so there's a limited amount of animals that will be able to kill it without help.  Although their paths may not cross, lions will be able to put this deer on the menu.  So will Nile crocodiles and large clans of hyenas.  Subadults may be vulnerable to the leopard and perhaps an African wild dog pack, but that's about it.

Wolverine: The wolverine lives in a swath of snowy forests (called the taiga) in the Northern Hemisphere, and these hardy mustelids have thickly layered fur that protects them from very cold temperatures.  A wolverine would overheat in most areas of Africa without an adaptation process occurring.  If we hypothetically assume the wolverine could live in most of Africa, it would have several predators that would be a threat to it.  Lions, hyenas, and crocodiles would need to be avoided, although a wolverine would probably be able to drive a single hyena away with its ferocity.  A leopard may attack one, but in the same way a honey badger can sometimes repel a larger predator, a wolverine might do the same (and the wolverine can potentially cross paths with cougars in Western Canada or the Northwest United States).  A cheetah or a single African wild dog won't be a danger to it, but a baboon troop or an African rock python (with an ambush) might be trouble on occasion.  The wolverine can drive wolves and bears away from kills, so it might attempt the same with some African predators.

Elk: An elk has a range that isn't as cold as what a moose typically enjoys, and there are some places in Africa it might do well.  It will be vulnerable to the major African predators (lions, crocodiles, hyenas) if contact is made, and can be in peril in certain circumstances with some of the other ones (African wild dog, leopard).  Subadults and young might be taken by the cheetah.  An adult elk will not be as formidable (as a prey item) as an eland or a buffalo, but will be a small step up from a zebra or a wildebeest.

Coyote: Coyotes sometimes hunt in packs, but usually venture out solo or in pairs.  In regards to formidability, the coyote is somewhere between the jackal and the African wild dog.  A pack of coyotes will give way to many of the larger land predators (lions, hyenas, leopards, wild dogs), and a single coyote will be no match for the cheetah.  A honey badger would be a good matchup for a coyote, but the mustelid will likely drive the canid away.  Baboon troops will be a threat to coyotes.  Good lateral quickness and speed (over 40mph) will keep the coyote safe in many encounters in the same way jackals use their speed and quickness to stay out of the way of larger predators at kill sites.  Caracals, servals, and other medium-sized cats might be chased away by a group of coyotes, but a single caracal or African golden cat will be more than a single coyote could handle.  A coyote will pursue prey into the water, so one will need to watch out for and waterways inhabited by the Nile crocodile.

Raccoon: The raccoon would probably need a wooded area in order to thrive in Africa; the Midwestern part of the continent would be great if it was cooler.  Because of the raccoon's small size, there are many African predators that would attack it if they saw it.  Even the jackal would give it trouble on occasion.  The best places for the raccoon might be in the jungle with gorillas, or on the island of Madagascar.  Madagascar has an ecosystem that could be disrupted by the introduction of a new species, but from the raccoon's point of view, it might be a good place to live.  The major threats to the raccoon would be the fossa (the island's largest predator), which could attack and kill a raccoon, and the Nile crocodile, which would be a peril if the raccoon enters any waterways on the island's west coast.  The raccoon will need access to trees for cover and safety if it is to thrive in any region of Africa.  

Skunk: The skunk is avoided by most animals that know what it can do (squirt an awful-smelling spray 10ft toward an attacker.  There would be a "learning process" that would occur for all of the African predators that attempted to attack, and many of their initial attacks might be successful before they realized what they were being sprayed with.  The larger predators (lions, hyenas, leopards, cheetahs, African wild dogs, etc.) would learn to avoid it outside of the most desperate of circumstances.  The biggest perils to the skunk would actually be pythons and birds of prey.  Some owls attack skunks without hesitation (likely due to a poor sense of smell), and it's possible that the birds of prey in Africa (like the crowned eagle or the martial eagle) would pose a significant threat.  An ambushing python probably won't be deterred by the skunk's spray enough to keep it from continuing its constriction of the mammal, so it will likely be a threat.  A skunk's spray can "run out" and take days to regenerate, so it must be selective in its use of this defense.  Most places in Africa will require it to defend itself constantly if it can't run, so a better place for it than the mainland might be Madagascar with the fossas, lemurs, and perhaps the raccoon (if we place it there, too).  The skunk would be alright in many places once the other animals learned of its abilities, but because Africa probably offers more dangers to it than North America, only certain locations would be optimal.    

3. Lets say a Clan of Spotted Hyenas were put in North America, would there be any predators that would be able to challenge them considering their pack numbers?

A: A large clan of spotted hyenas would potentially be able to dominate any North American animal it came across, but the success of each encounter would depend on the amount of hyenas in the clan.  A large brown bear (grizzly or Kodiak) or a polar bear would be able to deal with a large amount of hyenas (with bites and paw swipes) like they do with wolves (which are not as durable as hyenas, but have quicker lateral movement).  If a large clan of hyenas can be a threat to a Cape buffalo or a giraffe, it can be a menace to any bear.  At least 8 hyenas (approximately) would be needed to consistently challenge the larger bears, and 4 would likely give a black bear a lot of trouble.  A cougar would have a tough time with a single hyena (but could win), but would be easily driven away by more than one.  The only other predatory animal with a solid chance against the spotted hyena is the gray wolf.  A decent match for a hyena one-on-one, a gray wolf pack as large as the hyena clan would be able to consistently compete with it.  Gray wolves are just as good (if not better) at teamwork than spotted hyenas, and their greater quickness almost cancels out the advantages the hyena enjoys (higher bite force, better durability).  Both animals have excellent stamina.  The wolverine might be able to bully a single spotted hyena off of a kill, but a serious battle would favor the larger (3 times heavier) hyena.  The only real challenges to a spotted hyena clan introduced to North America are the large bears and gray wolf packs.

Great questions as always!

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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