There are two kinds of elephants, the African
elephant and the Indian elephant. The African
elephant is larger. They are both
herbivores, meaning that they eat plants.
Those plants are at the bottom of the food web in
their environments. Plants turn energy from the
sun into the energy in food. It takes a lot of
plants to support elephants. They eat 200-600
pounds of food a day. They may not be gaining any
weight, though. They need a lot of energy to stay
alive and active.
Animals that eat other animals are called
carnivores. All of the cats are carnivores.
They are higher up on the food web. In Africa,
the lions are the largest cats and at the top of
the food web. In India the tigers are.
There aren’t many animals that can kill an
elephant. They are so big and strong that they
can fight off almost anything. Females also
protect each other and their young. Mothers,
aunts, sisters, and older female cousins keep
babies safe. Tigers hunt alone, so they would
have to be very lucky to kill even a very weak
elephant. Sometimes an elephant will wander off
when it is too small to protect itself. Then a
group of lions may be able to kill it. After the
elephant dies, many animals may eat it. If big
cats killed it, they will eat first. When they
are done, scavengers like hyenas and vultures will
eat. Eventually, insects, worms, and bacteria will
also eat. These are the recyclers. They keep the
nutrients and energy flowing through the
The elephant’s skin is so thick that if a powerful
animal has not torn it open, other animals may not
be able to. In hot, dry Africa, it may become a
mummy. In warm, wet India, that won’t happen. The
body will decompose with the help of the
Lions sometimes kill the other large cats. Mother
cheetahs have to protect their cubs from lions.
The lions don’t usually eat the cubs, but they
Humans also kill elephants and wild cats, but
don’t usually eat them.
Why do you think there are many tons of plants,
a few tons of herbivores, and less than a ton of
carnivores all in the same amount of space?
If you are interested in questions like this, you
may want to study ecology.
Thanks for asking,
Elephants generally do not have predators
(animals that eat them) due to their massive size.
Newborn elephants are however vulnerable to
attacks from lions, tigers, and hyenas. The
biggest danger to elephants are humans;
elephants have been hunted for their tusks to near
extinction in some cases. This
website has great information on elephants
and potential elephant predators.
The cats that you refer to are at the top of
the food chain, meaning they are not eaten by
other animals. Although these animals may
attack and kill each other, they will not eat the
carcass as they would with prey. Like the
elephant, the biggest threat to lions and other
large cats are humans who hunt them for sport,
or land development that destructs their habitat.
Some lions can eat elephants, and humans eat
elephants, but aside from them, elephants have
no predators. All of these animals have
parasites, though, and when they die, their bodies
are eaten by maggots, vultures, buzzards, and
other animals that eat dead flesh.
Only the largest pack animals would be able
to eat an elephant. Elephants are able to
defend themselves and can hurt any animal that
attacks them by trampling them or hitting them
with their large tusks. Prides of lions or packs
of hyena or wild dogs might be able to take down
an elephant, especially if it is a baby or sick
There aren't too many animals that will eat
wild cats that are the size of cheetahs, lions,
tigers, and leopards. If these animals are
killed, it's likely to occur when they are still
young and not full grown or they may kill each
other over territory.
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