There aren't many predators that can kill a fully grown elephant, but a juvenile elephant is a different story. When they're young, lions can take down an elephant if they need to. And it isn't a pretty sight.
In general, the big cats snap the necks of their prey or choke them to death before digging into their warm meal. It seems harsh, but compared to the fate of juvenile elephants, it is actually quite humane. Because of their thick necks, lions aren't able to choke elephants. So once the elephant becomes overwhelmed by the cats, the cats start eating their prey while its still alive.
Lions don't typically go for elephants. But in drought-ravaged Botswana, one filmmaker working for Earth Touch found a pride of hungry lions who had no choice but to find food where they could. Because this footage is so hard to watch, we're not embedding it; if you'd like to see it, click here.
This is the kind of stuff you don't usually see in nature documentaries, but it is as much an integral part of the natural world as are the more charming aspects of animal behavior.
Header image: Adult male lion of the Okondeka pride stretching in Etosha National Park via Yathin S Krishnappa/Wikimedia Commons.