What is an apex predator? It is an animal situated at the top, or apex, of its food web. It has no natural predators. Such predators quite often have massive home ranges and tiny population densities. This means that habitat encroachment and human interference could pose a severe threat to the survival of the animal. However, apex predators perform vital ecological roles by assisting in the regulation of prey populations. They also alter prey behavior in a way that is advantageous to other species.
The Komodo dragon originated from the lesser Sunda area of Indonesia, usually in tropical savannah lowlands. These are big, dark brown lizards that could weigh as much as 360 pounds and grow as long as 10 feet. Even though the diet of these giants is carrion, Komodo dragons will also attack big prey. This large prey would include water buffalo, horses, wild boar, deer, pigs, goats, and even smaller Komodo dragons. Their modus operandi is ambushing the prey, sinking their teeth into them, injecting powerful venom. They would then follow the animal until it succumbs to the injury. Komodo dragons can consume up to eighty percent of their body weight in one feeding.
Besides sub-Saharan Africa, the African lion also roamed the plains of North Africa and Asia. Lions inhabit savanna or plains. They could be found in mountainous, semi-desert, and forested habitats as well. Lions reside and hunt in groups known as pride, even though the killing is commonly done by one lion, typically the female.
This is typical via breaking the neck of the prey or by suffocation. The type of prey will vary by geographical location; however, it includes giraffes, buffalo, and elephants. Wildebeests, warthogs, impalas and gazelles are also in the list. When larger prey is not accessible, lions would eat reptiles, amphibians, ostrich eggs, fish, rodents, and even birds. They will even scavenge for food if the need arises.
Salt Water Crocodile
The saltwater crocodile is documented as the world’s largest living reptile. It can grow to be as long as twenty-one feet, although the females are typically smaller. This reptile resides close to the coasts of Northern Australia, Indonesia, and New Guinea. However, they can range as far as the Philippines, Borneo, Southeast Asia, India, and Sri Lanka. When they are hunting the crocodile goes underwater with only its eyes and nostrils visible above the water’s surface. They will pounce on any prey such as boar, buffalo, or monkey to as small as birds, turtles, and crabs. The saltwater crocodile could lunge and kill with one snap of its massive jaws. They are known for eating their prey underwater.
This bird was driven close to the point of extinction due to pesticides and hunting. These are powerful birds that are one of the largest raptors known in North America. The eagle has a tendency to reside in close proximity to ocean waters, lakes, and rivers in order to hunt fish. However, they have a diverse diet that includes water birds and small mammals such as sea otter pups, rabbits, and squirrels as well. They have the ability to scan for their prey while on a perch or from the sky. Then they swoop down and snatch their prey using their sharp talons. Bald eagles feed on carrion and steal food from other birds as well.
The scientific name for polar bears means maritime bears, and polar bears are hardly far away from sea ice. They hunt seals and small mammals such as sea birds and fish. They also scavenge for carcasses of whales, walruses, and seals. Polar bears prefer the ringed seal as their food of choice. A bear will wait close to a crack in the ice in order to snatch a seal emerging for air. If the seal is lying around, the bear will stalk it. Or it will swim under the ice in order to pop up from a crack and surprise it. Polar bears run the risk of losing their hunting grounds due to the melting ice caps.
Tigers are normally solitary night hunters, depending primarily on sound and sight instead of smell in order to find prey. The diet of the tiger includes birds, crocodiles, elephants, wild pigs, leopards, goats, buffalo, and deer. Tigers kill smaller animals by biting them at the back of the neck in order to break the spinal cord. Larger animals are killed by suffocation, grabbing the throat and crushing the trachea. Tigers were once prevalent in the Middle East and Asia. However, due to poaching and encroaching by humans, the population has been decimated. They are currently on the endangered list as less than 4,000 remain in the wild.
Great White Shark
The great white shark has a reputation of being a rather unintelligent, ruthless human killer, because of the movie, Jaws. In reality, attacks on humans are very uncommon, and researchers understand that great white sharks are very intelligent creatures. They are also social creatures and very curious, also they have fear of orcas. These sharks have a wide range across subtropical and cold temperature waters. They hunt marine mammals and eat sea birds and turtles as well. A typically hunting strategy for these sharks involves swimming up from below the prey and attacking.
The orca, also commonly referred to as the killer whale, is a charismatic, curious, and yet fearsome predator. These large members of the dolphin family reside in oceans all over the world. Orcas travel around in family pods and use complicated forms of communication. They weigh in excess of five tons, and as adults can eat up to 100 pounds per day. Their diet includes sea otters, sea birds, turtles, squid, sharks, fish, dolphins, smaller whales, sea lions, and seals. Killer whales are very coordinated hunters, operating in teams in order to pursue and stress out prey. They often focus on whale calves, drowning them after separating them from their mothers.