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Maximum size of prey that a single male lion or tiger can kill

United States johnny rex Offline
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What is the maximum prey size (e.g. weight, physical dimensions, etc.) that a single male lion or tiger can take alone without being in groups? Up to the size of a buffalo bull?
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@Pckts @peter @Shadow thoughts?
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Guatemala GuateGojira Offline
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( This post was last modified: 03-15-2020, 11:02 AM by GuateGojira )

About the tiger, here are the words of Dr Karanth in the book "Mammals of South Asia, Vol 1" in the chapter 34, page 601 and 602:

*This image is copyright of its original author

So, adult bull gaur of up to 1,000 kg is the largest prey that a single tiger can kill. Adult rhinos and even elephants are reported, but it is no clear if they were hunted alone or in pairs.

Tigers will kill the most abundant prey available as there is no option, for example chital of 40-90 kg, but when the large prey is available, they prefer them even if the density is low, like happen in Chitwan NP with the Sambar. Check the case of the Thailand tigers that target directly large bovids like gaur and banteng in these days.

Here is an old comparative image and a table of the size of the gaur, the information is still correct:

*This image is copyright of its original author


*This image is copyright of its original author
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United States johnny rex Offline
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(03-15-2020, 10:57 AM)GuateGojira Wrote:
About the tiger, here are the words of Dr Karanth in the book "Mammals of South Asia, Vol 1" in the chapter 34, page 601 and 602:

*This image is copyright of its original author

So, adult bull gaur of up to 1,000 kg is the largest prey that a single tiger can kill. Adult rhinos and even elephants are reported, but it is no clear if they were hunted alone or in pairs.

Tigers will kill the most abundant prey available as there is no option, for example chital of 40-90 kg, but when the large prey is available, they prefer them even if the density is low, like happen in Chitwan NP with the Sambar. Check the case of the Thailand tigers that target directly large bovids like gaur and banteng in these days.

Here is an old comparative image and a table of the size of the gaur, the information is still correct:

*This image is copyright of its original author


*This image is copyright of its original author

Thanks Guate, so both male tigers and lions can kill an animal up to 1000 kg singlehandedly. Correct?
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( This post was last modified: 03-15-2020, 05:02 PM by Shadow )

(03-14-2020, 02:39 PM)johnny rex Wrote: What is the maximum prey size (e.g. weight, physical dimensions, etc.) that a single male lion or tiger can take alone without being in groups? Up to the size of a buffalo bull?

I see it so, that when looking what people with reliable reputation say and combine that with existing footage especially from many filmed lion hunts, it´s quite safe to assume so, that big buffalo bulls are possible for tigers and lions. With high risk, but possible. 

What comes to bigger species and healthy adults, I have doubts. Well, a hippo far away from water isn´t too fast.... difficult to say, at least lions try them time to time even alone and some smaller ones have been eaten.
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( This post was last modified: 03-15-2020, 05:44 PM by peter )

(03-14-2020, 02:39 PM)johnny rex Wrote: What is the maximum prey size (e.g. weight, physical dimensions, etc.) that a single male lion or tiger can take alone without being in groups? Up to the size of a buffalo bull?

Tigers and rhinos

A few decades ago, I often taped documentaries. I still have these videos and the summaries I wrote. In two videos, rhinos were hunted by male tigers. I saw one on a forum later. It had been broadcasted on a Russian channel and parts of the documentary were moved to a forum (AVA). The footage was from Nepal or northern India. It showed a male tiger following a mother rhino and her calf. In order to get rid of the tiger, mom crossed a river to reach an island. The tiger followed. A few days later, the adult rhino was seen again. She had defended her calf right to the end and nearly lost her life doing so. The second video was less clear, but the people who were interviewed were sure tigers hunted adult rhinos every now and then.   

Some of those who spent a lot of years in what used to be British India wrote about their experiences later. They thought tigers hunted rhinos and elephants occasionally. It starts with calves. When a tiger is experienced, he moves from calves to adolescents and young adults. I wasn't surprised to read later adult rhinos had been killed by tigers. 

Most posters seem to have doubts about tigers hunting rhinos, but there are reliable reports about rhinos killed by tigers in recent years. Nearly all rhinos killed were youngsters and adult females, but some tigers seem to hunt adult male rhinos every now and then. This photograph was posted not so long ago. It shows a male tiger and a male rhino killed in a fight. Happened in November 2017, I thought:


*This image is copyright of its original author
 

Tigers and elephants

I've read so many books in which tigers and elephants feature, that I wouldn't know where to start. Apart from books, there are magazins like The Field, The Indian Forester and The Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. In each of them, you can find letters about tigers and elephants. Most of these were published in the period 1890-1950, but I also have reports about recent incidents. 

This book below was discussed in the tiger extinction thread some yearts ago. It has different stories in which male tigers and male tuskers feature. Male tigers following herds quite often hunted calves and youngsters, but they also attacked adults defending youngsters. Not every attack resulted in a dead elephant, but quite a few elephants were injured.  

Adult females and adoslecents never left the herd on their own to engage a tiger following the herd, but some males visiting the herd occassionally, and tuskers in particular, did. Some of these males harrassed and 'hunted' tigers following herds. They knew about their habits and waited for an opportunity to attack. At times, they were injured while trying, but they also succeeded every now and then. 

Those who know captive tigers agree they have a dislike for certain animals. At times, these dislikes develop into fueds. Based on what I read, I'd say male elephants are not much different. When these two get involved, anything can happen.    

Never ever underestimate a wild male elephant driven by anger. Kenneth Anderson and others who hunted 'roques' agreed they're intelligent. move as silent as a big cat and know how to hunt an animal they dislike. For them, a human is no different from an animal. 

Here's the title page of the book, a reprint. My advice is to buy it when you can:             


*This image is copyright of its original author


Tigers and wild buffalos

Tigers and gaurs often feature in books, articles and posts. Tigers and wild buffalos, however, is a different story. In the tiger extinction thread, a few books written by Bengt Berg were discussed. In one of these, the 'Killer of Man' features. This male tiger from Bhutan was known for the way he killed wild buffalos. He wasn't after youngsters or females, but only hunted large bulls. 

The largest tiger Berg ever shot was 9.7 'between pegs' and 565 pounds. The 'Killer of Man', however, was in a different league. He could have shot this giant on different occasions, but wanted him to pass on his genes. Berg was a real hunter, that is. 

This specialist hunting large male buffalos never was involved in a battle. He rose underneath and in front of the giant, got a hold on the throat and the horns, used his grip to turn the head sideways and downward, planted the horns in the ground and heard the vertebrae of the neck crack while moving to the tail to start dinner. How to use weight in your advantage, lesson one. 

Berg saw the results time and again. His accurate and lengthy descriptions made it clear the tiger rose in front of the buffalo, toppled him over and used his strength to twist the neck, in this way using the weight of the falling buffalo to his advantage. It wasn't a result of coincidence, that is. I've seen it on two occasions in old documentaries. In both cases, the neck was broken in this way. It wasn't the skill that made the Bhutan tiger famous. It was his strength to completely twist the head of a very heavy animal in such a way, that the horns were planted in the ground each and every time. Berg never saw any signs of a struggle.

Here's a wild buffalo (photograph from one of the books of Berg):


*This image is copyright of its original author


The neck of this buffalo was broken:


*This image is copyright of its original author
   

Now imagine a large bull with his horns sticking into the ground. The neck was broken by a cat less than a third his weight.   
    
Tigers and bears

Most posters are fascinated by large animals killed by much smaller specialists like big cats, but only few seem to appreciate a tiger able to kill a robust and agile animal like a bear. Strange, as even a smallish adult brown bear is a powerful animal well capable of killing a male tiger. 

It takes a lot of skill to overcome even a small bear. Some male Amur tigers hunt female brown bears every now and then. It is an ability that isn't really appreciated. Remember the video of Matkasur and the female sloth bear less than half his weight? I've seen a number of videos of Matkasur from up close. He's a splendid male tiger similar in size to an average male Amur tiger or better. In spite of that, he wasn't able to kill a very modestly-sized female sloth bear, whereas Russian specialists not seldom kill female brown bears twice her weight.  

I'm not saying his aim was to kill her, but Matkasur wasted a lot of energy struggling an animal he could have convinced in another way. He was, after all, a prime male tiger more than twice her weight.

The video underlines the conclusion that sloth bears are not easy to kill, even when they're only half the weight of a tiger. When the bear is over 220 pounds or thereabout, an ambush and a bite to the back of the skull aren't going to produce quick results. Not unless the tiger is a specialist. The tiger often has no other option but to face the bear, meaning the fight can be dangerous. Bears, more robust than tigers, can take a lot of damage. This isn't true for tigers, as they're full-time hunters. If there's one thing a true hunter wants to avoid, it's extra weight. If a hunter is injured, he'll pay. If a bear is injured, he'll visit another tiger kill. 

These tiger kills, by the way, are the reason tigers meet bears and learn to engage them. If they survive their first fights, chances are they'll continue in the bear department. When they gain experience, tigers progress from youngsters to adults. Including, as we've seen in rhinos and elephants, adult males. Happens very seldom, but it happens. Not so in bears and this should tell you something. 

I've yet to read a reliable report about an adult male Himalayan bear killed by a tiger in India, Nepal, Myanmar and Vietnam. It is, therefore, remarkable that Amur tigers hunt (larger) brown bears in the Russian Far East. They avoid adult males, but adult females and young males up to about 4-5 years of age are on the menu. In some seasons and regions, bears are an important food item. More important than red deer, for example. Some posters argued the results of research confirming bears are an important source of food were pollluted by smallish samples and the presence of bear specialists, but Miquelle and others recently concluded they could have been wrong regarding tigers and bears in the Russian Far East.

Amur tigers, for obvious reasons, are not as large and heavy as half a century ago. Males averaged about 389 pounds in a document published in 2005. But the table was polluted to a degree and the conditions in the Russian Far East are improving. The number of tigers is increasing and I've seen quite a few recent pictures and videos of large male Amur tigers in very good health. My guess is those interested in tigers and bears could be in for a few surprises in the near future.
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Guatemala GuateGojira Offline
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(03-15-2020, 01:24 PM)johnny rex Wrote: Thanks Guate, so both male tigers and lions can kill an animal up to 1000 kg singlehandedly. Correct?

To be honest, I have evidence of tigers killing animals of that size, but not lions. Normally lions hunt large bulls in group, not single handle, but as tigers and lions are so similar I see no reason why a lion can't kill a large bovid if had the oportunity.

In fact, the heaviest bull of African buffalo that I know is 900 kg:

*This image is copyright of its original author


That means that, hipotetically, the largest prey that a lion can kill alone will be that.


I saw reports of lions killing giraffes alone, but we don't know the weight and age of those specimens, incredibly it seems that is easier to kill a giraffe than a buffalo. Also I know of reports of lions huting rhinos, hippos and even a full grow female elephant, but in all those cases the lions attacked in group, so we can't take it in count.

The report of @peter about the rhinos and tigers in India is interesting, however those cases of "tiger vrs rhino" are very rare. In this case, we can say that the maximum prey that a tiger can kill will be an adult rhino, that can weight between 1,600 to 2,100 kg (Owen-Smith, 1988). However, as those cases are rare, the maximum prey that a tiger can kill alone is the gaur (Karanth, 2013).
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(03-15-2020, 10:34 AM)johnny rex Wrote: @Pckts @peter @Shadow thoughts?

I'm probably more strict on my stance than most others here but as I've said before, I don't believe either a Tiger or Lion has a very good chance of taking down a Large, Alpha Cape or Gaur Bull unless some unusual circumstance is in play. 
But everyone should remember that these animals come in many different sizes and shapes, taking down a Bull isn't the same as taking down a big, alpha one.
Giraffe on the other hand, while being larger than cape are very awkward and limited in defense towards predation which make them more susceptible to it while a Squatty Bovine is much harder to drag down and keep down.
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@GuateGojira, the rarity of tiger vs rhino is because of humans. Other than Kaziranga and Chitwan and to a stretch, Orang, there really aren’t places in the wild with significant population of either to kind of emphasise the dynamic between the two species.

For example, till 1908, the Javan rhino or lesser one horned rhino were found in Sunderbans and they made up a part of the diet of Sunderbans tigers. Now, both the tiger and rhino are significantly smaller (not as some exaggerate, but a significant percentage) in the mainland as compared to Sunderbans, but, the dynamic was that of prey and predator. 

Dudhwa barely has any rhinos, but you still hear of cases of tiger attacks like the one @Rishi posted yesterday. 

We might never fully understand what the dynamic between these two species was for thousands of years, but, with rhinos now being moved out to spaces also occupied by tigers, we get to see how species adapt and form a new dynamic.
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(03-16-2020, 11:33 PM)Ashutosh Wrote: @GuateGojira, the rarity of tiger vs rhino is because of humans. Other than Kaziranga and Chitwan and to a stretch, Orang, there really aren’t places in the wild with significant population of either to kind of emphasise the dynamic between the two species.

For example, till 1908, the Javan rhino or lesser one horned rhino were found in Sunderbans and they made up a part of the diet of Sunderbans tigers. Now, both the tiger and rhino are significantly smaller (not as some exaggerate, but a significant percentage) in the mainland as compared to Sunderbans, but, the dynamic was that of prey and predator. 

Dudhwa barely has any rhinos, but you still hear of cases of tiger attacks like the one @Rishi posted yesterday. 

We might never fully understand what the dynamic between these two species was for thousands of years, but, with rhinos now being moved out to spaces also occupied by tigers, we get to see how species adapt and form a new dynamic.

That is a very valid point. We don't know the relation between these species in the past and now there are very few places where tigers and rhinos actually live in the same area. Even then, must experts believe that the tigers-lions do not normally hunt these large animals, as they are too large and the incredible amount of energy used to hunt them is too much. Besides, even in the cases of gaurs, tiger do not eat them completelly, so there is no sence to kill a huge rhino, to risk the life and to get a big meal that at the end is not going to be used entirely.

So, my conclution is that there are verified cases of tigers hunting adult rhinos in the Indian subcontinent, but in comparison to other species, those cases are still rare. I think that a tiger will have better changes to hunt an adult gaur than to hunt and adult rhino, not just because of the size, but also because of the prey density.
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(03-16-2020, 11:25 PM)Pckts Wrote: I'm probably more strict on my stance than most others here but as I've said before, I don't believe either a Tiger or Lion has a very good chance of taking down a Large, Alpha Cape or Gaur Bull unless some unusual circumstance is in play. 
But everyone should remember that these animals come in many different sizes and shapes, taking down a Bull isn't the same as taking down a big, alpha one.

In fact, if you check the document of Dr Karanth and Dr Sunquist of 1995 "Prey selection by tiger, leopard and dhole in tropical forest", in table 5, you can see that the percentage of adult male gaurs hunted by tigers is of 14.6, which is the third one after young adults and adult females. The average weight of the gaur killed by tigers in Nagarahole is 287 kg, biased toward young specimens, but this sample includes several males of 1,000 kg.

So yes, tiger can and do kill big alpha adult male gaurs in several ocations, interestingly those are in face to face combats and most of them are in open areas, where the tiger have the advantage of the speed and space.



*This image is copyright of its original author


*This image is copyright of its original author
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(03-17-2020, 12:00 AM)GuateGojira Wrote:
(03-16-2020, 11:25 PM)Pckts Wrote: I'm probably more strict on my stance than most others here but as I've said before, I don't believe either a Tiger or Lion has a very good chance of taking down a Large, Alpha Cape or Gaur Bull unless some unusual circumstance is in play. 
But everyone should remember that these animals come in many different sizes and shapes, taking down a Bull isn't the same as taking down a big, alpha one.

In fact, if you check the document of Dr Karanth and Dr Sunquist of 1995 "Prey selection by tiger, leopard and dhole in tropical forest", in table 5, you can see that the percentage of adult male gaurs hunted by tigers is of 14.6, which is the third one after young adults and adult females. The average weight of the gaur killed by tigers in Nagarahole is 287 kg, biased toward young specimens, but this sample includes several males of 1,000 kg.

So yes, tiger can and do kill big alpha adult male gaurs in several ocations, interestingly those are in face to face combats and most of them are in open areas, where the tiger have the advantage of the speed and space.



*This image is copyright of its original author


*This image is copyright of its original author
The weights claimed are estimates and Gaur predation wasn't witnessed, only scat and carcasses observed.
I'm well aware that Tigers hunt Gaur, they do so often but a Big Bull Gaur is in a different league than just a standard Bull Gaur. 
And a 1000kg Bull would be a totally different monster IMO.
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Guatemala GuateGojira Offline
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( This post was last modified: 03-17-2020, 12:19 AM by GuateGojira )

(03-17-2020, 12:03 AM)Pckts Wrote: The weights claimed are estimates and Gaur predation wasn't witnessed, only scat and carcasses observed.
I'm well aware that Tigers hunt Gaur, they do so often but a Big Bull Gaur is in a different league than just a standard Bull Gaur. 
And a 1000kg Bull would be a totally different monster IMO.

They said that they actually weighed the animals, remember that I asked to Dr Sunquist about that some years ago, and althought the predation was not witnessed in all the cases, you can see in the pictures that they checked the specimens, checking the form that tiger used to kill the specimens. Details of this you can see it in other publications of Dr Karanth.

By the way, here is an image showing that they actually weighed the kills in Nagarahole:

*This image is copyright of its original author


There is some degree of estimation as the tiger/leopard/dhole ate something of the kill, but that is just minimum.

What is the difference of "big adult gaur" and "standard bull gaur"? That is just your personal assumption, not a real concept used by scientists and also by tigers themselves.

We have records of tigers attacking huge bulls in old litterature too and if a tiger can kill a rhino, there is no reason why they can't hunt a bull gaur that weigh less.
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( This post was last modified: 03-17-2020, 12:29 AM by Pckts )

(03-17-2020, 12:09 AM)GuateGojira Wrote:
(03-17-2020, 12:03 AM)Pckts Wrote: The weights claimed are estimates and Gaur predation wasn't witnessed, only scat and carcasses observed.
I'm well aware that Tigers hunt Gaur, they do so often but a Big Bull Gaur is in a different league than just a standard Bull Gaur. 
And a 1000kg Bull would be a totally different monster IMO.
Quote:They said that they actually weighed the animals, remember that I asked to Dr Sunquist about that some years ago, and althought the predation was not witnessed in all the cases, you can see in the pictures that they checked the specimens, checking the form that tiger used to kill the specimens. Details of this you can see it in other publications of Dr Karanth. 

I'm sure they can weigh the animals but I doubt Karanth did so and I doubt it's really done at all tbh.
The equipment and man power to do so would be immense and I'd assume it'd have to be a specific study on Bovine size to actually log that data. 

Quote:What is the difference of "big adult gaur" and "standard bull gaur"? That is just your personal assumption, not a real concept used by scientists and also by tigers themselves. 


A big Bull is massive, he's all muscle and his shoulder looks like it stands as tall as I am, which is 6'5'' and they are very thick.
They literally look to be the size of a gypsy when you drive past them. 
Most bulls are much smaller with far less muscular humps and a leaner profile. 
The same goes for Capes, most Bull capes are fairly modest in size but the huge alphas have giant necks and very robust bodies. 
I've seen some massive lions and tigers in my life and they would look like pussy cats next to these big boys. I just have a really hard time seeing as to how they would be successful in a straight up conflict, it seems impossible to me. 


Quote:We have records of tigers attacking huge bulls in old litterature too and if a tiger can kill a rhino, there is no reason why they can't hunt a bull gaur that weigh less.


I know we have records of it happening and I'm sure it has happened but what isn't know is the condition of the animals being attacked *injured, old, already deceased* etc.  
I've began to take most of the accounts with a major grain of salt and I know my criteria is different than others so it gets lost in translation when debating this topic.

Edit: In regards to the Gaur image
Do you know the weight claimed and how much of it was actually consumed?
Also is there a witness to the kill or just a carcass found?
Thanks
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( This post was last modified: 03-17-2020, 12:43 AM by Ashutosh )

@Pckts @GuateGojira, latest research into average prey size of Indochinese tigers revealed that average weight of banteng and gaurs predated was close to 400 kilograms. That is higher than Nagarhole research and shows a presence of a decent number of adult male gaurs. If anything, it tells you, that prey size is not THE most important factor (it maybe A factor but not the mist important one) when tigers make their kills.

@GuateGojira, tigers not killing an animal because they can’t eat the whole animal is not really a condition for or against predation. Simply because, even if tiger kills a nilgai (300 kilos), a tiger will never eat it completely. But, bigger prey is a risk/reward situation. A tiger killing a water buffalo or gaur will feast for 4-5 days consuming upto 70-85 kilos in first 4-5 days mainly from the rump area but making sure to not rip the entrails of the carcass. Then, it is all about concealment of the carcass from scavengers. If it is adequately hidden, there will be enough for it to go back and eat the entrails and making one last huge meal which will last another week. Once the abdomen is opened up, there is very little a tiger can do to keep it way from scavengers. A big prey like that will feed a tiger for 2 weeks. And, then it has to decide again what kind of prey it wants to hunt.

Like the case from Kaziranga, where a tiger and rhino were found dead next to each other. On further inspection, it was found that a young male had been tucking into the rhino kill of a big male who upon discovering this young male killed it right there. You can’t conceal a huge kill like rhino that easily.
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