A Contest of Equals

In this duel to the death, both predator and prey are well prepared. Both lions and buffalo have evolved physical features and behaviors designed to help them survive in a highly competitive environment. Indeed, some features may have evolved specifically to counter evolutionary advances by competitors: cooperative hunting by lions, for instance, may have evolved to defeat defenses such as herding. Below, we take a brief look at a few of these offsetting characteristics:

Teamwork vs. Strength
To overcome an adult buffalo's amazing strength and formidable defenses, lions gang up, working together to bring down their meal.

Hunter vs. Herd
To keep predators such as lions at bay, buffalo have evolved carefully choreographed herding habits. Traveling together not only makes it harder for an attacker to single out a target, but allows the herd to put their most vulnerable members inside the group, protected by sharp-horned guards.

Speed vs. Stamina
A buffalo may not be as fast as a sprinting lion, but they have a lot more stamina. In a war of attrition, a buffalo can often outlast a tiring lion.

Strong Jaws vs. Sharp Horns
A lion can use its powerful jaws to clamp a buffalo's windpipe closed in a heartbeat -- but only if it can first get by those heavy, sharp horns, which can kill or maim an attacker with a single toss of the head.

Sharp Claws vs. Tough Hides
A lion's claws can tear and puncture, but a buffalo's thick, tough hide is made to take a beating. Indeed, many buffalo bear scars from lion attacks that they have survived.

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