By Kate Harrold
THIS LION was captured taking down a one-hundred-and-forty-pound hyena before leaving it for dead.
In one image, the hyena is captured crying out as the 418-pound lion grabbed it by the neck and dragged it to the ground causing blood to spill out.
In another, the neck of the hyena lay twisted to the side as the lion bit down causing the hyena to suffocate.
Photographer and ranger, Chad Cocking (36), from Johannesburg, South Africa, was in the country’s Tanda Tula Safari Camp, Greater Kruger Park, when just 80-yards away from Chad’s vehicle, a lion proved to an unlucky hyena who was top of the food chain.
“The hyena tried to jump up and run away but the lion gripped it by the throat. It’s never easy watching animals die and suffer, and this certainly shocked the guests I was with,” Chad said.
“We arrived to find a male lion suffocating a hyena. After a couple of minutes, the lion left the hyena for dead. Unfortunately for the hyena, it was still clinging on to life – it was severely wounded though.
“That was when a second lion then approached and continued to suffocate it.
“The rest of the hyena clan gathered at first to save their clan member but soon realised they were no match for the lions.
“The hyena was still breathing after the lions walked away but it just lay there with a broken back and no chance of recovery.
“The lions were drawn in by the sound of the hyenas fighting the African wild dogs. By the time they noticed the lions had arrived, it was too late.”
Lions are known for stealing prey from other predators – including hyenas – which has created a rivalry between the two species. Lions will share their spoils with the entire pride although it is the males who get the first bite.
Surprisingly, lions are the laziest species of big cat – sleeping for up to 20-hours a day. They are their most active at dusk which is when they will hunt. Lions can go for five days without drinking water due to the moisture they take on from their prey.
“Lions and hyenas have always been in competition with each other, so these scenes play out from time to time,” Chad said.
“As brutal as scenes like this may be, and as sad as even hardened conservationists like myself may feel watching them, we have to remember that this is nature.
“Natural scenarios like this have played out for millions of years. There’s no malice in the actions of the lions. Such actions are borne out of a natural instinct to complete.
“Today the lions won, but next time it could be the hyenas.”
For more, see @chadcocking.
For more information, see www.mediadrumworld.com.