15 Most Protective Animals in the World (Pictures & Facts)

family of elephants walking on yellow grass

Because the animal kingdom operates on a hierarchy of predator versus prey called the food chain, animals tend to be very suspicious of each other. 

In the wild, guards must constantly be on duty to survive. In addition to predators seeking food, animals of the same species may also be considered threats.

Here, animals must protect their territories from intruders looking to usurp their dominance. 

Some of the most protective animals include lions, elephants, wolves, bees, and hyenas, among others. These creatures take the act of guarding to a whole new level and will fight to the death to protect their groups and territories from outside intruders.

We curated a list of the 15 most protective animals around the globe.

15 Animals That Are Protective

  • Lions
  • Elephants
  • Grizzly Bears
  • Chickens
  • Wildebeests
  • Hippos 
  • Wolves
  • Gorillas
  • Wild Boars
  • Tigers
  • Otters
  • Dolphins
  • Dogs
  • Bees
  • Hyenas

Lions

two lionesses protecting one another

  • Scientific Name: Panthera leo
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Range: Africa

It’s no small feat to be “king of the jungle.” Every monarch knows that defending your kingdom and crown is perhaps the most important of all royal duties, and lions take these very seriously. 

Without a kingdom, there is nothing to rule over, and without a crown, the kingdom continues without you. Consequently, lions aggressively defend their mostly female prides from intruders seeking to take advantage or challenge their dominance. 

Lionesses are also touted as one of the most fiercely protective mother animals in the whole animal kingdom.

Although topping the food chain means that lions are animals with no natural predators, cubs are still very vulnerable, and female lions would put their life on the line to protect their babies, going as far as fighting male lions if need be.

In addition to being protective, these big cats are regarded as one of the most vengeful animals out there.

Elephants 

three elephants on gray grass

  • Scientific Name: Loxodonta
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Diet: Herbivore
  • Range: Africa and Asia

Elephants are typically called “gentle giants.” As the largest land mammals, their sizeable appearances are enough to strike fear in every heart. 

However, elephants are naturally not aggressive, well, except for when they feel threatened. 

Most elephant herds are made up of adult females and their young. This matriarchal structure is mainly for the protection of their calves, and as soon as they are provoked, the maternal instinct kicks in to defend their young by neutralizing the threat. 

Another protective technique elephants have up their sleeves is their concern for one another. When one elephant is threatened, the others don’t just scatter, they come to the rescue of their comrade in distress.

Grizzly Bears

mother grizzly bear with her cub

  • Scientific Name: Ursus arctos horribilis
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Range: North America, Europe, Asia

Bears are solitary animals that enjoy minding their business. They like their space and will aggressively defend it from unwelcome guests, and most of the time, the guest doesn’t live to tell the tale. 

And while they are not very social animals, bears are fiercely protective when it comes to their cubs.

Of all the species, grizzly bear mothers are thought to have the most protective nature. The following stat backs that claim – 70% of all grizzly bear killings come from defending their babies.

There is a good reason why the term “mama bear” is used to characterize a fierce and protective mother.

Chickens 

hen with its chick on her back

  • Scientific Name: Gallus gallus domesticus
  • Type of Animal: Bird
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Range: Worldwide

It may be surprising to find chickens on the list among all these fearless animals. After all, they are known for their fear of almost everything, so much so that when a person is called a chicken, it conveys a lack of courage. 

However, mother hens are some of the world’s most selfless and protective mothers.

While chickens may lack the courage for everything else, the narrative changes when their chicks are involved. 

Hens will guard and defend their chicks even before they hatch, and after hatching, they will try all they can to fend off all threats, no matter how intimidating, 

Even though pecking and kicking aren’t always enough to discourage determined predators, their courageous attempts to overcome cowardice to defend their young have earned them a spot on our list. 

Wildebeests

large herd of wildebeests in the wild

  • Scientific Name: Connochaetes
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Diet: Herbivore
  • Range: Africa

Wildebeests are a type of antelope that move in large numbers. The size of their herds is both a curse and a blessing. 

It’s a curse because to predators like lions and hyenas, their large numbers are like a buffet where there are several options to choose from. However, their large herds are also a blessing because when threatened, they band together to ward off predators. 

Although instinctively, wildebeests would run away from threats en masse, when provoked to the extreme, they will turn on their aggressors, particularly when a calf is involved. 

Wildebeests’ protective instinct switches their stance from flight to fight, and oftentimes, they do significant damage. 

Hippos

group of hippos swimming in the water

  • Scientific Name: Hippopotamus amphibius
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Range: Africa

Hippopotamuses are dangerous and infamously aggressive animals. With their high energy and massive jaws, these easily provoked animals are also very territorial, particularly the bulls. 

Hippos will charge at and maim intruders who may usurp their dominance, calves of rival males, and anyone who trespasses into their domain.

Males are also highly protective of their herd members, especially calves. As a result, one of their primary functions is to keep family units safe from lurking predators.

Their large size may be deceiving because hippos run very fast at about 32 km/h. Even in the water, they are known to chase boats, almost catching up with them. 

Wolves

wolf pack formation on rock

  • Scientific Name: Canis lupus
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Range: North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa

Wolves belong to a highly organized hierarchical formation known as packs. Each wolf, understanding its role within the whole unit, enjoys the pack’s protection. 

With the average pack consisting of about 7 to 10 wolves, each member develops a strong devotion to the group, called pack mentalityWith this mentality, they sleep, hunt, and move together as a unit. 

With no known natural predators, rival wolf packs are the biggest threat to wolves. 

In the case of pack clashes, each pack will viciously protect its members. Their pack mentality ingrains a selfless idealogy in them where the protection of the whole crew comes first.

Gorillas

big and small gorilla on rock

  • Scientific Name: Gorilla
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Diet: Herbivore
  • Range: Africa

Gorillas are some of the most social animals that live in groups of extended families that count up to 50 members.

The adult males are solely responsible for protecting the rest of the family, particularly the females and their young. This is because the females are smaller and primarily preoccupied with nurturing infants.

Although they generally prefer to avoid conflict and will only bluff to scare away potential threats, when an intruder refuses to succumb to the bluffing, gorillas are known to become very aggressive. 

Being herbivores, gorillas don’t attack to feed, but when threatened, the damage caused can be fatal. 

Wild Boars

Wild boar family in the wilderness

  • Scientific Name: Sus scrofa
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Range: Worldwide

The distinctive adjective in this animal’s name clearly separates it from its other relatively harmless pig cousins. This is because wild boars display the highest ferocity levels of all pig species. 

Armed with a body mass that creates a heavy force on impact and long tusks for impaling, the wild boar is one ruthless opponent to confront. 

When agitated, they charge at full speed, often shifting backward to gather momentum, bending their heads at an angle that pushes their tusks forward to strike. 

Although male wild boars are usually more aggressive than females, the females are also known to fearlessly protect their young and are easily provoked when in the company of their piglets. 

Tigers

tigress with two cubs lying on the ground

  • Scientific Name: Panthera tigris
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Range: Asia

Unlike most of the protective animals on the list, tigers are solitary creatures who roam the wilderness on their own. They value their solitude so much that they can be deadly to any unwelcoming guest. 

Because they prefer solitude, tigers tend to give one another a wide berth to wander freely without interference.

Consequently, tigers are very protective of their territories, often marking their boundaries with scents and other physical symbols as warning signs to trespassers. 

Tigresses with cubs are especially dangerous to cross because these moms are perhaps the most protective animal moms. Female tigers are highly involved in parenting their cubs and will even take on male tigers in combat to protect their young. 

Otters

family of otters in the water

  • Scientific Name: Lutrinae
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Range: Worldwide (except Antarctica and Australia)

Although otters are delightful creatures, their strong familial bonds compel them to display a more aggressive side when threatened. 

These carnivores mainly prey on fish but will efficiently work together to take down larger animals, particularly when they’re unwelcome. 

Otters are fun and mischievous, often interacting with their environments in interesting and curious ways. When dealing with threats, their mischief also comes into play. 

Otters are known to taunt and harass trespassing animals before killing and eating them. This is probably to wear the intruder out before delivering the fatal blow. 

Additionally, because otter groups are subdivided into family units, otters are very protective of their young. 

Apart from trespassing and arousing their suspicions, the easiest way to get on their wrong side is to threaten the safety of their young.

Dolphins

two dolphins cuddling in the water

  • Scientific Name: Delphinus delphis
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Range: Worldwide oceans

Dolphins are group-oriented animals, meaning individuals are more concerned about protecting themselves as a group than surviving alone. 

This prioritization of family is why dolphins move in groups, having the strength of numbers on their side against their mostly solitary natural predators, sharks. 

Forming a protective barrier around their calves, adult dolphins will work together to fend off predators by ramming their noses into them. Occasionally, dolphins have been known to kill sharks when threatened. 

What’s even more fascinating is that these aquatic mammals are known to protect people in various situations, such as shark attacks, drownings, and in other life-threatening events.

Dogs

brown dog in guard position

  • Scientific Name: Canis lupus familiaris
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Range: Worldwide

There is hardly any more loyal animal known to man than the dog. Their tendency to faithfully commit is what makes dogs fierce defenders of what and to whom they are loyal. 

No matter how friendly or domesticated a dog is, once it identifies a threat, it will attack to defend its own. 

This attribute is often taken advantage of by training them as guard dogs, police dogs, and warfare dogs. 

Once a dog is trained to identify intruders, suspicious people, or enemy groups, it will stop at nothing to neutralize the threat and keep those who matter to it safe. 

Bees

swarn of bees working

  • Scientific Name: Anthophila
  • Type of Animal: Insect
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Range: Worldwide

A beehive is a perfect example of a superorganism – a community of individual organisms synergistically working together as a single unit. 

Bees prioritize and devote themselves to their respective colonies. 

Worker bees are responsible for maintaining and defending the hive. Bee colonies run on a division of labor basis, and worker bees, having the most significant responsibilities, take their duties very seriously. 

Once they spot intruders, bees swing into action by stinging them, sacrificing themselves in the process because their stingers rip out their abdomens after attacking their victims. 

Hyenas

small pack of hyenas

  • Scientific Name: Hyaenidae
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Range: Africa and Asia

Last but not least, hyenas come as some of the most recognized protective animals. Hyenas live in large groups (called clans) that count up to 100 members.

Hyena clans usually consist of only females and their cubs. After reaching adulthood, males leave the clan and look for a new family to join as “immigrants.”

Like elephant herds, hyena clans are matriarchal, meaning a female hyena sits at the very top of the rankings, ruling the group.

Besides being leaders of the clans, mother hyenas are also attentive, nurturing, and highly protective mother animals. Until cubs reach 14 months, they depend entirely on mothers’ protection.

Final Thoughts

Some of the most protective animals are usually the ones that live in groups. However, some solitary animals, such as tigers or grizzly bears, also display high levels of protection for their babies, territories, or both.

I hope you enjoyed and learned something new from reading this post. For the very end, here’s a recommendation for another popular piece: Ugly Baby Animals.