This is the astonishing moment a pregnant rhino very nearly became dinner for three opportunistic lions after she slipped into a watering hole and was surrounded by the hungry beasts.
Tourists spotted the black rhino drinking from the watering hole in Etosha National Park, South Africa, when she lost her footing and fell in.
Heavily pregnant, the large animal struggled to pull herself up onto the bank, sliding back into the water on every desperate attempt.
Realising an opportunity for an easy lunch, three hungry lions approached the bank and began to circle the tired animal like vultures.
Rhinos not considered to have any predators other than humans, who hunt them for their horns, suggesting the lions smelt vulnerability and were reacting entirely on instinct.
The rhino – naturally armoured to the teeth – was determined to save herself and the life of her unborn calf and mustered her last bit of strength to pull herself from the water.
Seizing on the opportunity, the lions can be jumping onto her back and attempting to sink their teeth into her as she struggles to break free.
Fortunately for the rhino, she manages to shake off the predators and escape unharmed. As the lions consider another way to mount an attack.
British tourist David Wederell, was lucky enough to capture the drama unfolding while on a guided safari tour in South Africa.
The 31-year-old from Essex said: ‘We had driven to various watering holes to try our luck of further sightings. It was whilst we were at our final stop of the evening safari the black Rhino came out of the bush and ventured to the watering hole for a drink.
‘It was a very peaceful end of the day until of course it dramatically changed when she unexpectedly lost her footing and slipped and fell in.
‘We were about 150 feet from the Rhino, the Lions that became attracted to the commotion and noise of the Rhino actually came from behind our truck so were extremely close as they passed by.
‘I started filming to capture the Rhino in the watering hole, expecting her to eventually climb out.
‘Of course there was no way I knew what was going to happen next with the three lions. It was just by chance I still was recording at the time.
The rhino tried to pull herself out of the watering hole but could not get her footing. We could see she was becoming physically exhausted and the sounds of her heavy breathing were loud and clear from our viewpoint.
It was as a result of this and the noise of the water splashing that caught the attention of three young male lions.
From behind our truck they came to the watering hole to investigate and quickly saw the rhino in the water.
Very quickly they surrounded her at the water’s edge. But you could see they weren’t sure quite how to take down the Rhino for their dinner.
Just as an opportunity presented itself for one of the lions to get onto the rhino’s back, most likely out of panic and determination the Rhino finally found her footing and managed to pull herself out of the water.
She then chased off the three lions, finishing with a charge before turning her back and trotting off back into the bush to live for another day.
There was a real sense of excitement and awe of what was happening and a real mixture of emotions.
I definitely wanted the Rhino to escape, especially so with their endangered status. She was also pregnant so it would have been very sad if she was killed but on the other hand, to see first-hand three lions take down an animal like that would have been quite spectacular.
Ultimately we got a great viewing of what life is truly like in the animal kingdom. There was a huge sense of relief when she finally escaped.