- Baby elephant got into trouble while playfully chasing a warthog at Mana Pools National Park, in Zimbabwe
- Two lionesses were stalking the warthog, but quickly changed targets and pounced on the young elephant
- While they were trying to kill the infant its family, including a very angry mother elephant, arrived to help
- She charged at the two lionesses and after a brief standoff they abandoned their quarry and ran into the bush
This is the incredible moment a brave mother elephant charged at two lionesses in order to save her baby from being eaten in Zimbabwe.
Photographer Kevin Dooley, who captured the scenes at Mana Pools National Park last month, said the lionesses were hunting a warthog when a baby elephant which had wandered away from its herd showed up.
Mr Dooley said the elephant calf began chasing the warthog, unaware of the predators lurking nearby, before being pinned to the ground by the lions who tried to kill it.
This is the moment a brave mother elephant saved her calf from being eaten after charging at two lionesses who had pinned it to the ground in Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe
Photographer Kevin Dooley said the lions had been stalking a warthog when they noticed the baby elephant was playfully chasing it, and immediately switched targets because the elephant would provide more food
Mr Dooley explained that, while the warthog would be eaten within a matter of hours, a baby elephant could have fed the lions for days.
He said: ‘One of the lionesses was very pregnant and badly in need of food.
‘Elephants are a very difficult animal for lions to kill and normally the lions will have had to grow up in a pride that specialises in killing elephants, otherwise they will avoid them and go for smaller and less dangerous prey.
‘The lions took the elephant down with ease, both leaped on to the elephant’s back and forced it to the ground, after which they applied all their weight and began to immobilize the elephant.
‘The baby elephant began to scream loudly and within a minute or two a teenage elephant showed up and tried to save its younger sibling.
‘However the lions would not release their meal and the teenager eventually gave up and ran in fear. Soon the mother elephant showed up and in all her anger and power she charged at the lions that were aggressively trying to kill the young elephant calf.
‘One of the lionesses quickly retreated and the mother elephant screamed in anger and threw dust into the air.
Mr Dooley said the two lionesses – one of which was heavily pregnant – quickly pinned down the baby elephant and were trying to kill it when its family showed up and charged at them
The baby elephant’s juvenile brother (right) was first to arrive and tried to scare the lions off but wasn’t big enough to tackle them both, before mother (left) turned up and drove them both away
‘The second lioness held tight and growled and snarled at the mother elephant. However the elephant did not retreat and eventually the lion gave up. The lion knew that she was no match for an angry adult elephant.
‘Once the lions retreated the mother elephant raised the baby up using its trunk. She smelled the baby and checked her over. The lions ran into the bushes close by. The entire herd of now six or seven elephants charged the bushes and the lions ran off.
‘I knew I had a once in a lifetime event taking place in front of me, I was very busy just trying to get the photographs.
‘At first, before the mother arrived, I was somewhat sad, but understood the lions must eat. Once I saw the mother elephant charging the lions I knew they did not have a chance.’