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African Lion vs. Hyena — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Published on December 5, 2023
The African Lion is a large feline predator, while the Hyena, often spotted or striped, is a scavenger and predator belonging to the Hyaenidae family.
African Lion vs. Hyena — What's the Difference?

Difference Between African Lion and Hyena

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Key Differences

The African Lion, revered for its majestic appearance, belongs to the Panthera genus, specifically known as Panthera leo. These creatures are apex predators and are primarily known for their hunting skills and social structure centered around prides. Hyenas, in contrast, belong to the Hyaenidae family and are recognized for their distinctive vocalizations and scavenging habits, although they too can be formidable hunters.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 05, 2023
When observing an African Lion, one might notice its powerful build, lush mane (in males), and piercing eyes. They are considered symbols of strength and royalty across various cultures. The Hyena, though also a carnivore, presents differently with a more hunched back, powerful jaws, and either spotted or striped patterns. Their laugh-like vocalizations have made them quite distinct in the animal kingdom.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 05, 2023
The African Lion's habitat primarily spans the grasslands, savannas, and open woodlands of Africa. They are territorial creatures that work in prides to hunt and raise their young. Hyenas, however, can be found in various habitats, from savannas to forests and even deserts. While spotted hyenas live in clans and have complex social structures, other hyena species might have different social dynamics.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 05, 2023
In terms of diet, while African Lions primarily hunt large herbivores such as zebras, wildebeests, and antelopes, they can also scavenge when opportunities arise. Hyenas, often perceived primarily as scavengers, are adept hunters and can take down prey or steal kills from other predators, including lions. Their powerful jaws allow them to crush bones, consuming almost all parts of a carcass.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 05, 2023
Both African Lions and Hyenas play crucial roles in the ecosystem. The lion, as an apex predator, helps regulate herbivore populations, ensuring a balance in the food chain. Hyenas, with their scavenging habits, play a role in cleaning up the environment by consuming leftover carcasses, thus preventing the spread of diseases.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 05, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Taxonomy

Panthera leo (Felidae family)
Members of Hyaenidae family
Fiza Rafique
Dec 05, 2023

Appearance

Powerful build, male lions have a mane
Hunched back, powerful jaws, spotted/striped
Fiza Rafique
Dec 05, 2023

Habitat

Grasslands, savannas, open woodlands
Savannas, forests, deserts
Fiza Rafique
Dec 05, 2023

Diet

Predominantly hunters, occasional scavengers
Both hunters and scavengers
Fiza Rafique
Dec 05, 2023

Social Structure

Live in prides
Spotted hyenas in clans; varies among species
Fiza Rafique
Dec 05, 2023

Compare with Definitions

African Lion

Symbol of strength and royalty in many cultures.
The African Lion has been featured on coats of arms and flags.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 25, 2023

Hyena

Both a scavenger and a hunter with powerful bone-crushing jaws.
A hyena can consume almost all parts of its prey, bones included.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 25, 2023

African Lion

A social animal that lives and hunts in groups called prides.
The dynamics within an African Lion pride are intricate and fascinating.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 25, 2023

Hyena

Belongs to the Hyaenidae family and can be spotted or striped.
The spotted hyena is one of the most recognized species of hyena.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 25, 2023

African Lion

Apex predator known for its hunting prowess and territorial nature.
An African Lion's pride works together to take down large prey.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 25, 2023

Hyena

Found in diverse habitats across Africa and parts of Asia.
From savannas to deserts, the hyena is a versatile creature.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 25, 2023

African Lion

A large carnivorous feline of the Panthera genus found in Africa.
The roar of the African Lion can be heard from miles away.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 25, 2023

Hyena

Has varied social structures, with spotted hyenas living in clans.
The hierarchy within a hyena clan is led often by females.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 25, 2023

African Lion

Majestic creature with males distinguished by their manes.
The mane of an African Lion can indicate its age and health.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 25, 2023

Hyena

A carnivorous mammal known for its distinctive vocalizations.
The laugh of a hyena is unmistakable in the African night.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 25, 2023

Hyena

Any of several carnivorous mammals of the family Hyaenidae of Africa and Asia, which feed as scavengers and have powerful jaws, relatively short hind limbs, and coarse hair.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 19, 2023

Hyena

Any of the medium-sized to large feliform carnivores of the subfamily Hyaenidae, native to Africa and Asia and noted for the sound similar to laughter which they can make if excited.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 19, 2023

Hyena

(Sub-Saharan Africa) A man that performs ritualized sex acts with recently widowed women and menarchal girls.
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Oct 19, 2023

Hyena

Any carnivorous mammal of the family Hyænidæ, doglike nocturnal mammals of Africa and southern Asia, of which three living species are known. They are large and strong, but cowardly. They feed chiefly on carrion, and are nocturnal in their habits.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 19, 2023

Hyena

Doglike nocturnal mammal of Africa and southern Asia that feeds chiefly on carrion
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Oct 19, 2023

Common Curiosities

How long can an African Lion live?

In the wild, they live around 8-12 years, but can live longer in captivity.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 05, 2023

How do African Lions communicate?

They use vocalizations, body language, and scent marking.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 05, 2023

Are hyenas related to dogs?

No, despite some similarities, hyenas belong to their own family, Hyaenidae.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 05, 2023

Why do hyenas laugh?

Their vocalizations, resembling laughter, are communication tools denoting rank and social status.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 05, 2023

Do African Lions and hyenas get along?

Typically, no. They often compete for food and can be aggressive towards each other.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 05, 2023

What is the diet of a hyena?

They eat a mix of hunted prey and scavenged remains.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 05, 2023

Do hyenas have strong jaws?

Yes, they possess one of the most powerful jaws in the animal kingdom.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 05, 2023

What is the primary habitat of the African Lion?

They mainly inhabit grasslands, savannas, and open woodlands in Africa.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 05, 2023

How fast can an African Lion run?

They can reach speeds of up to 50 mph, but only for short distances.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 05, 2023

Are African Lions endangered?

Their populations are declining, and they are listed as vulnerable.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 05, 2023

How do hyenas hunt?

They can hunt in groups or alone, using both speed and endurance.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 05, 2023

Which is larger, a lion or a hyena?

African Lions are generally larger than hyenas.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 05, 2023

Who is the main predator of the African Lion?

Adult lions have few natural predators, but young lions can fall prey to hyenas and leopards.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 05, 2023

Are all African Lions mane-bearing?

No, only mature male lions develop manes.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 05, 2023

How many species of hyenas are there?

There are four main species: spotted, striped, brown, and the aardwolf.
Fiza Rafique
Dec 05, 2023

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at AskDifference.com, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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