Cruel moment lion takes down and kills baby elephant after it had lost its mother

IT’S the circle of life in action: the moment a young lion brings down an elephant calf captured in a series of incredible photographs.

The stunning images, captured by wildlife photographer and conservationist Brent Stapelkemp at a watering hole at the Makalolo pan in Zimbabwes Hwange National Park, show the young lion pounce on the lost baby elephant, bringing it down.

The young lion, which was hunting near a watering hole at the Makalolo pan in Zimbabwes Hwange National Park, took advantage of the lost baby elephantCredit: Caters News Agency

The cub saw his chance and rushed in to take the elephant downCredit: Caters News Agency

The baby elephant is brought down by the cub, with a lioness coming soon after to help the predator with one of its first killsCredit: Caters News Agency

The baby elephant realises the lion is on the move and tries to escapeCredit: Caters News Agency

Photographer Stapelkemp admits that the photographs ‘tug at the heart strings’Credit: Caters News Agency

Stapelkemp, who has been studying and photographing lions for the past decade, admitted the photographs were emotional.

He said: “It does tug at the heart strings but this is a result of ɱaп’s artificial ɱaпagement of nature and the lions are seizing on a survival opportunity too.”

An outspoken conservationist, Stapelkemp has dedicated thousands of hours to spend ᴛι̇ɱe with lions and better understand the world they live in.

Describing the series of live-action photographs, he 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

“Then this lone elephant calf left the waterhole and the young male lion took the opportunity.”

The 38-year-old, who has been studying the lions with Oxford’s WildCRU, said the next few moments unfolded quickly.

He said: “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.”

The lion makes its move after the predators sat and waited for desperate animals to drink from the waterholeCredit: Caters News Agency

The attack is unusual with it only taking place due to the huge numbers of elephants coming near waterholes in the peak of dry seasonCredit: Caters News Agency

The images of the lion taking down the baby elephant were captured by Stapelkemp, who has been studying lions with Oxford’s WildCRUCredit: Caters News Agency

Stapelkemp said the images captured a new phenomenon, which had started to unfold due to the huge numbers of elephants around waterholes.He said: “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.”