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Photographer Captures Rare Rescue in Kruger: Buffaloes Saves Baby Elephant from Being Eaten by Lions

Buffaloes Rescue Baby Elephant from Lions
Photo: Jill Mathews

In a heart-stopping encounter in the Kruger National Park, South Africa, a herd of buffaloes intervened to save a young elephant calf from a pride of lions. Hospitality expert Jill Mathews captured this unexpected act of bravery.

Watch the video here.

A Tense Morning at the Klopperfontein Dam

Tanzania, Africa – March 13, 2023: Safari vehicle traffic jam in Tarangire National Park as tourists view an elephant in the wild. Image via depositphotos.

Jill, 63, and her companions arrived at the Klopperfontein Dam early in the morning. The dam, almost dry, was a scene of various animals, including two giant bull elephants shielding a baby elephant, buffaloes, zebras, and impalas, all searching for the last traces of moisture.

Lions Hiding in the Bushes

Lion (Panthera leo) female, Phinda Private game Reserve, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hidden in the shade of trees, a pride of lions lay in wait, camouflaged on rocks above the dam. One lioness, in particular, was alert and watchful. Sensing that the lions were planning a hunt, Jill and her group decided to leave and return later.

Watch the video here.

The Ambush

Buffaloes Saves Baby Elephant
Screenshot via AATG, youtube. Captured by Jill Mathews.

Upon their return at 17:15, the scene was tense. The lions remained in their strategic position, ready to attack. To everyone’s shock, a lone baby elephant emerged from the bushes, making it an easy target for the lions, who swiftly ambushed it.

A Lone Buffalo Sees What Happend

Buffaloes Saves Baby Elephant
Screenshot via AATG, youtube. Captured by Jill Mathews.

As the baby elephant struggled, a group of buffaloes nearby heard the commotion and decided to investigate. Recognizing their eternal enemies, the buffaloes charged at the lions, driving them away individually. Seizing this opportunity, the baby elephant ran towards the two bull elephants near the dam for protection.

Buffalo Calls For Backup

Buffaloes Saves Baby Elephant
Screenshot via AATG, youtube. Captured by Jill Mathews.

More Buffalos to the Rescue

Buffaloes Saves Baby Elephant
Screenshot via AATG, youtube. Captured by Jill Mathews.

However, the ordeal wasn’t over. The two bull elephants didn’t shield the terrified calf, and the lions, sensing this vulnerability, attacked once more. This time, the attack was obscured from view behind a bush.

Watch the video here.

Heartfelt Emotions

Buffaloes Rescue Baby Elephant from Lions
Photo: Jill Mathews

Jill and her husband were emotionally overwhelmed, witnessing this raw display of nature. The bull elephants, too, seemed to express deep emotions of loss as they realized the baby elephant’s plight.

The encounter concluded with the large pride of lions, numbering between 15 and 18, overpowering the baby elephant. Jill presumes the lions succeeded in their hunt.

Watch the video here.

A Once-in-a-Lifetime Sighting

lioness drinking water
Lioness at a watering hole. Image by Birger Strahl via Unsplash

Jill described the event as “extremely rare” and believes it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. She advises other wildlife enthusiasts always to be prepared to capture such fast-moving events, even if they are obscured or emotionally challenging.

Many Questions

Lioness running through a savanna full of colorful flowers on a foggy morning. Image via Depositphotos

She also raised questions about the behavior of the elephants: Why was the baby elephant abandoned? Could it be a result of poaching? She hopes to hear from others who might have insights or witnessed this intense encounter’s aftermath.

Watch the video here.

Unraveling the Mystery

Baby Elephant
Baby elephant. Image via Unsplash

The mysterious circumstances surrounding the abandoned baby elephant in the Kruger National Park raise several pressing questions. One of the most poignant is the reason behind its abandonment. 

Elepahant Mothers

Elephant and her baby cuddling. Image by aiisha via Depositphotos

In the wild, elephant mothers and their herds fiercely protect their young. The absence of the mother or the herd during such a critical moment is unusual. Poaching remains a significant threat in many African regions, and it’s plausible that the calf’s mother fell victim to this heinous act, leaving the young one to fend for itself. 

Watch the video here.

The End

Elephant from Kruger Park, South Africa. Image via Rob Hooft, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Natural causes, diseases, or injuries could have separated the mother from her calf. As for the behavior of the two bull elephants, it’s essential to understand that while male elephants can be protective, they are not typically involved in the direct care of calves, a role primarily taken by the mothers and other female elephants in the herd. 

The events following the incident, such as the fate of the baby elephant or any subsequent interactions, remain unknown. 

Watch the video here.

The Video

YouTube video

It would be invaluable for conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts to share any further observations or insights to piece together the whole story and understand the intricate dynamics in this poignant tale from the wild.

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Wednesday 3rd of January 2024

Buffaloes have emotions just like every animal GOD created. Humans are the ones who lack emotions.

Albert Reyes

Friday 17th of November 2023

And what makes some you believe that only humans have meaningful emotions and animals are void of any understanding of the situation in front of them?! Ignorant comments from dummies!!

Cathy Fleming

Wednesday 20th of September 2023

Should have shot and killed the lions

Dan H.

Monday 13th of November 2023

@Cathy Fleming, Lions have to eat too.


Wednesday 6th of September 2023

Please happy ending stories only. Those bull elephants were from NYC . Where crimes happens on a daily , and no one gets involved. Including the police.

Samir captan

Wednesday 6th of September 2023

After watching your video and your analysis on the event on the poor orphaned elephant baby, I had a heart felt emotions.

Even the buffaloes had a heart felt sympathy for the baby elephant and came to baby elephant rescue.

Unfortunately the baby elephant ran to its kind the bulls, but was not accepted and was kick out.

That compared the lions to come back to attack the elephant.

My question is that why Jill and her team did not shoot in the air to scare the lions off the baby elephant to save it?

If they did; they could have called the security or who ever is in charge of animals orphanage to rescue the poor animal, but you guys were able to film the whole incident to last.

My second question is you guys and the poaches who has human feelings?

To me you all are the same.


Wednesday 1st of November 2023

@Samir captan, agree.

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