A wildlife photographer captured the nail-bi.ting moment when a f.ear.less elephant took on a herd of 13 wild dogs to protect her herd.
Mithun Hunugund, from Bengaluru, southern India, was on safari in Nagarhole National Park when he saw a pack of Asiatic wild dogs trying to am.bush two baby elephants.
He filmed the female elephant running towards the dogs, swinging her trunk, poun.cing on the ground, and trying to ki.ck the pre.dators away.
Mr. Hunugund, 29, said: ‘As we sat in the car with the covers unwrapped we heard the hordes of Bonnet macaques all around us going haywire.
As we went a little further to find out what was causing them an.xiety, we saw a herd of 10 females and two calves gathering in the road and something walking towards them at a distance.
It was a pack of 13 wild dogs on a h.unt that were scouring the woods for prey. The elephant herd has two small calves and because of the large size of the herd, they were potential prey.
The first thing they tried to do was create chaos and try to separate the calves from the a.dults – it was a stre.ssful moment for all of us.
Mr. Hunugund watched a.dult elephants create a bar.rier between their young and pre.dators before the four-ton female ru.shed in.
Asiatic wild dogs, also known as Dholes, are known for their effective h.unting tactics and will eat both much smaller and larger prey.
The slightly built dogs, smaller than the average domestic ca.nines, are en.dan.gered animals with smaller bree.ding numbers than wild tigers.
Mr. Hunugund said: ‘Once the herd realized that dogs were around, they formed an impenetrable wall by surrounding both calves.
While this was happening, one member of the herd decided to follow the herd on her own so this could distract them and thus give time for the whole herd to move to safety.
So she lunged at them and started ki.cking wet mud on each one of the wild dogs.
I would be lying if I said I don’t care, seeing tiny calves definitely makes you worry for their safety.
At the end of the day, I understand that it’s the law of the jungle, some creatures have to d.ie in order for others to survive – it’s as simple as that.
If the dogs don’t h.unt, then it’s not only them who would star.ve but also the puppies will depend on them – that’s a thin line.
Mr. Hunugund said the elephant’s b.rave efforts paid off, and the herd eventually decided to withdraw from the pack.
The photographer, who has a particular interest in leopards, has traveled extensively to capture wildlife with other nature lovers.
Nagarhole National Park, named for the river that flows through its center, is home to a rich wildlife population.
Mr. Hunugud said: Living in a city like Bengaluru is a ble.ssing for a wildlife en.thusiast like me.
Having been born and raised in the jungle, the bug for wildlife developed at a very young age and only increased with time and age.