A Wise Choice: Lioness Relinquishes Food to Hungry Hippo, Recognizing the Bigger Beast’s Appetite

When a hungry hippo opened its jaws in a display of aggression to ward off a family of ravenous lions they quickly took the decision to retreat.

The intimidating display was captured in set of pictures taken on the Chobe River in Botswana and they show the lone hippo baring its teeth for the prize of a young elephant’s carcass.

Despite being outnumbered, the large animal stares down the lioness and her cubs in order to secure the chance to feast on the remains.

When a hungry hippo opened its jaws in a display of aggression to ward off a family of ravenous lions they quickly took the decision to retreat

Grant Atkinson, 46, a guide and wildlife photographer from South Africa who witnessed the spectacle, said: ‘The lioness was feeding on a dead subadult elephant, that had died alongside the river of natural causes.

‘Her cubs were feeding alongside.

‘A solitary hippo approached, causing the cubs to leave the scene and hide, dragging off a bone with them.

‘The lioness held her ground, but after some minutes of jaw gaping and silent pressure, the hippo finally started to move closer to the lioness.’

A lioness and her cubs feed on the elephant carcass near the Chobe River, Botswana

The hippo approaches the elephant carcass as the lioness watches on

The hippo bares its teeth at the lioness and sends the hungry pack running

After a tense encounter, the majestic cat left the elephant carcass to the hippo and retreated into nearby bushes

While the hungry animal feasted on the meat, the big cat returned to sit patiently behind the hippo and wait her turn

And after a few minutes of feeding, the hippo slowly made its way into the water, leaving the scraps for the lioness and her cubs

After a tense encounter, the majestic cat left the elephant carcass to the hippo and retreated into nearby bushes.

But the lioness made sure she was first in line for leftovers.

While the hungry animal feasted on the meat, the big cat returned to sit patiently behind the hippo and wait her turn.

And after a few minutes of feeding, the hippo slowly made its way into the water, leaving the scraps for the lioness and her cubs.

Grant, who has been a photographer for nine years, said he had heard of hippopotamuses feeding on meat but had never seen it for himself.

He added: ‘I’ve been working in the bush for 15 or 16 years but I’ve never seen it before – for me it was a first.’

Sia

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