The natural world can be a scary place, yet some creatures, known as apex predators, are lucky enough to live without fear since they have no predators. Human activity, like hunting, habitat damage, and climate change, is the only threat to these animals.
‘Apex’ is a Latin word that shows peak or top. An apex predator is a species that lives at the top of the food chain with no natural predators.
Apex predators are known according to their trophic dynamics. In an ecosystem, this is the basic process of transferring energy from one trophic level (the groups of species at the same level in a food chain) to the next. Apex predators are at the top of the food chain in any ecosystem.
The consequences of apex predators on their surroundings
Apex predators frequently have a large impact on their habitat (this is referred to as a ‘keystone species’). This limits prey density and restraining smaller predators, which has a knock-on effect on disease regulation and sustaining biodiversity in a region.
When apex predators are removed from or introduced to new ecosystems they can generate trophic cascade. (Which have far-reaching consequences for lower layers of the ecosystem.) When Arctic foxes were brought to sub-Arctic islands, their predation on seabirds was proven to convert grassland to tundra. Whereas the recent decline in sperm whale numbers has resulted in an increase in the population of giant squid.
Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis)
The Komodo dragon is the world’s largest living lizard, reaches 3 meters in length and weighing 160 kilograms. They basically live in tropical dry forest and savanna habitats on five of Indonesia’s 17,500 islands: Komodo, Rinca, Gili Motang, Flores, and Padar.
Komodo dragons are apex predators that prey on any form of flesh, including carrion, water buffalo, deer, pigs. They have even been known to kill and consume humans. Their saliva contains harmful germs, assuring that anything escaping their powerful legs and sharp teeth will die within 24 hours from blood poisoning.
Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii)
The Tasmanian devil is a distinctive dog-like carnivorous marsupial that first roamed Australia but is now restricted to Tasmania, with a small breeding population in New South Wales.
Tasmanian devils eat small prey such as birds, fish, frogs, and insects and are content to scavenge. These apex predators hunt alone using a combination of ambush and quick assault. As well as an extraordinarily hard bite per body mass.
Giant Petrel (Macronectes)
Giant petrels are enormous seabirds with wingspans of up to 2 meters. They can be found around Antarctic and sub-Antarctic islands. At first impression, they resemble a stockier, smaller albatross, but they are more aggressive, with a huge, powerful beak capable of ripping open carcasses to feed on.
Giant petrels are known to drown or smash larger birds, such as albatrosses, and then consume them. They also hunt squid, fish, and krill. They like scavenging as much as hunting, and are frequently spotted near seal and whale carcasses.
Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
Golden eagles are the largest bird of prey in North America and one of the world’s largest eagles. They manage their ecosystems of mountains, hills, cliffs, and coniferous woods as real apex predators.
Because this prey is scarce in the golden eagle’s mountainous habitat, a single mating couple may defend an area of more than 100 square kilometers.
These predatory birds have amazing eyesight and can identify small prey from high heights. After which they drop at incredible speed and snare the victim with their talons. Their primary diet consists of grouse and hares, but they also consume small mammals, reptiles, and fish.
Jaguar (Panthera Onca)
Jaguars are located in South and Central America, where they enjoy swampy savannas and tropical rain forests. These huge cats know practically anything they can catch, including deer, crocodiles, snakes, monkeys, deer, sloths, tapirs, turtles, eggs, frogs, and fish.
King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah)
Despite its name, the king cobra is not related to the genus Naja (genuine cobra). They are, instead, members of their own distinct genus. They are mostly found in South and Southeast Asia, where they prey on smaller snakes such as rat snakes and small pythons, as well as other animals such as lizards, birds, and rodents.
The king cobra is the world’s largest venomous snake, reaches lengths of up to 5.5 meters. The King cobra is one of the most venomous snakes in the world, with a 50% death rate for untreated human bites. A king cobra bite can kill an Asian elephant in a matter of hours.
Brown Bear (Ursus arctos)
Brown bears can be found in forests across North America, Europe, and Asia, often in close to humans. These bears are among the largest land mammals alive today. Standing 2.5 meters tall on their hind legs and being up to 770 kilograms. As a result, the brown bear is one of the world’s largest terrestrial predators and a true apex predator.
They are omnivorous, content to hunt for food. Fruit, honey, insects, crabs, salmon, birds, eggs, rodents, squirrels, deer, elk, and wild boar make up a typical brown bear diet.