A set of incredible images captured the moments a lost junior elephant was pounced upon and killed by a lion cub hunting with its pack.
The young lion was on the look out for food near a watering hole at the Makalolo pan in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park.
When a junior elephant strayed away from the rest of its group, the cub saw his chance and rushed in to take it down.
The scene was captured by 38-year-old wildlife photographer and conservationist Brent Staplekemp, who was studying the lions with Oxford’s WildCRU.
Brent said: ‘It was the very height of the dry season and so the lions just had to sit at the waterhole and wait for the desperate animals to come and drink.
We saw two kills, a buffalo and a warthog, as well as several attempts on giraffes and buffaloes. It was a meat feast.
Then this lone elephant calf left the waterhole and the young male lion took the opportunity. I was at ground level standing behind my open door of my cruiser.
The elephant realised something was up and tried to chase the lion before turning and fleeing. The lion caught him and brought him down before a lioness came to help. These lions were very young and perhaps this was their first day as independent hunters without their mothers to help.
Lions killing elephants is a fairly new concept in Hwange but a phenomenon that has appeared because of the very high density of elephants around waterholes in the peak of the dry season. Often the calves are lost in amongst the huge numbers of elephants at the waterholes and the lions have learnt to sit and wait for these unprotected youngsters.
It does tug at the heart strings but this is a result of man’s artificial management of nature and the lions are seizing on a survival opportunity too.