In a heart-stopping display of bravery and protective instincts, an elephant rescued its injured calf under attack by a pack of hyenas in the Savuti region of Chobe National Park, Botswana.
These incredible pictures, captured by American photographer Jayesh Mehta, 47, reveal a gripping wildlife encounter.
The distressed cries of elephants led the photographer and his team to discover a group of 12-14 hyenas relentlessly pursuing a herd of about eight elephants.
Among the herd were two adult females, several teenagers, and a mere few-day-old baby elephant. The hyenas targeted the vulnerable baby, who had already sustained injuries when the photographers arrived on the scene.
The elephants, aware of the threat to their young, sprinted through the bush with the baby staying close to its mother.
The other elephants formed a protective circle around the infant during each pause to rest, demonstrating their collective determination to shield the calf from harm.
Throughout the harrowing chase, the hyenas darted in, inflicting severe injuries, especially to the baby’s hindquarters. However, the larger adult elephants used their trunks aggressively to fend off the hyenas without causing them any harm.
As the chase ensued for nearly an hour, the elephants shook off the hyenas momentarily, giving them a brief respite.
Yet, the relentless hyenas tracked down the elephants, and the chase resumed. Eventually, the elephants succeeded in escaping the relentless pursuit of the hyenas.
Jayesh Mehta, the photographer, remarked that witnessing this life-and-death encounter was an unforgettable experience.
The intensity of the animal noises, the bumpy ride through the bush, the dust the elephants raised to protect their location, and the sheer thrill of this wildlife drama stunned the team.
Despite enduring scratches and cuts, they maintained a safe distance, respecting the natural struggle and avoiding interference.
This astonishing tale of bravery and maternal protection reminds us of the extraordinary bonds within the animal kingdom, where a parent’s instinct to safeguard their young knows no bounds.
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