Yesterday, someone ended up on this website by googling “Can a wolverine take down an elephant?”
Aside from being my new favorite search term in the history of this blog (knocking “Do wolverines have an appetite for humans?” to second place), the query was a propos. Tonight at Lincoln Center in New York City, Gianna Savoie and her already-award-winning documentary Wolverine: Chasing the Phantom will be among the contenders for an ‘Outstanding Nature Programming’ Emmy; among their competitors will be a documentary on elephants. The event will not be broadcast (at least, I can’t find any schedule for it) but the results will most likely be available at the Emmy website.
The answer to the question is, in strict biological terms: wolverines and elephants don’t share habitat, so an encounter would be highly unlikely, although wolverines and mammoths did overlap during the Pleistocene. I’m betting that a wolverine probably couldn’t have taken down a mammoth, but I doubt that would have stopped one from trying, especially if the mammoth was a newborn. And at the very least, gulos scavenged mammoth carcasses. So we can speculate that wolverines did come out better from any encounter with elephant-family critters.
For the purpose of the wolverine-elephant encounter this evening, we can only hope that the answer is a definitive “yes.” Good luck, Gianna, and may you and the Gulos win!