This would be quite the scene to see play out right in front of your eyes, and that’s exactly how a Virginia man felt when he got to witness and document this elephant’s close encounter with a pride of lions.
Brent Schnupp, a 55-year-old paramedic firefighter from the United States, was visiting Kruger National Park in South Africa when nature started to take its course with him and others witnessing. The tourist was on a safari guide with two lead guides and five other guests when the elephant versus lion showdown took place.
“It was a crisp morning, around 6:30 AM, just north of Mopani camp, and my safari group and I were excited, hoping to see some of Africa’s wild animals. As we drove along the roads in the park, our anticipation grew.
The thrill of not knowing what may be around the corner was captivating. As soon as I had that thought, we came across a male lion casually crossing the road. He walked down to a small puddle. To our surprise, two other lions appeared out of nowhere and joined him.”
Just seeing lions out in the wild had to be an unbelievable experience in its own right, but the excitement was kicked up a notch when some vulnerable prey was recognized within the immediate vicinity.
Not very long into the tour, the group was able to see something that safari guides usually have to stay out for hours, if not days, to witness. The situation evolved with such extraordinary pace that the group didn’t even have time to really appreciate the initial sighting of the lions by themselves.
“The tranquility was short-lived. Our attention was drawn to an adult female elephant emerging from the thicket ahead of us. She appeared to be in distress and was crossing the road with great haste. Little did we know at the time that she had left behind her vulnerable calf.
The lions, sensing an opportunity, came onto the road and soon realized that the mother elephant had left her calf behind. The younger male lion took the lead in chasing the defenseless baby elephant.”
When the baby elephant, who was abandoned by its mother, figured out it was on its own, it decided that it wasn’t going to go down without a fight. Every time it looked as though the lions were going to move in for the kill, the baby elephant bravely stood its ground and defended itself.
The lions should have had the upper hand, but failed to bring down the small elephant. It seems as though the lions eventually tired of pursuing the elephant, and once it got to that point, the big-eared creature was able to miraculously escape and survive.
Schnapp said that the whole thing was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and possibly had never happened before in the national park:
“In my six years of visiting Kruger National Park, I’ve never witnessed anything quite like this.
Even our seasoned guides from Leo Vantage were astonished, admitting that they had never seen lions chasing a baby elephant during their entire time in Kruger.”