An elephant scared away a predator from its herd in South Africa, leaving the creature stranded at the top of a tree in a desperate attempt to avoid becoming food himself.
Kevin Dooley, 60, documented the moment a leopard was compelled to leap into a tree in order to avoid being targeted by an angry elephant.
Brian Dooley, from Albuquerque, New Mexico, captured the images as the bull elephant was approaching the big cat at the Madikwe Game Reserve.
The elephant was seen trying to get up into the tree’s branches with its trunk, while the leopard fled for safety.
‘I watched them for about an hour and a half. The bull elephant scented the leopard from a mile away,’ Kevin continued. ‘He went up to the tree and attempted to drive off the leopard, but he wouldn’t release his grip.’
‘It’s really tough to find leopards in the wild, but seeing an elephant and a leopard interact is truly something special. I was completely perplexed by what I was witnessing.
Elephants have been observed protecting weaker members of their herd against larger predators, such as lions or leopards, by aggressively atta.c.king. The act of defending others younger is known as altruism in the animal world.
Elephants will also make loud trumpeting noises to scare off predators, even if they are not always chasing the animals into trees.
Herds communicate with each other via low rumbles, which may be used to warn members of the group about possible dangers.
The protective group mentality of herds, with other elephants charging or displaying a.g.gre.ssi.ve body language to deter would-be at.tac.kers, has little effect on predators like leopards and lions, who have no chance against even the tiniest of adult elephants.