A wildlife photographer hoping to capture images of the elusive bobcat was horrified when she eventually found one – in the jaws of an alligator.
Despite her shock, professional photographer Jamie Felton managed to capture the moment in a nature centre in Florida on her camera.
Overpowered: The bobcat makes a desperate bid to escape but is overpowered by the much bigger alligator
Alligators’ diet consists mainly of fish and birds but they’ve been known to attack deer, dogs, Florida panthers and black bears if they hungry enough.
Ms Felton had spent several months visiting the nature centre to photograph the bobcats and was heartbroken to see one of them being killed by an alligator.
Ms Felton, 53, said: ‘As I walked on the boardwalk, someone told me a alligator had caught an otter.
‘I’ve gotten used to alligators eating turtles and birds but was surprised to hear it had caught an otter.
‘As I rounded the corner the alligator jumped out of the water with an entire bobcat in his jaws.
‘I wanted to cry, I may have shed a tear or two, but I took the pictures anyway.
‘That’s what happens when your a nature photographer, you take the pictures no matter what.’
Oblivious: A bobcat leans down for a drink of water at a lake in a Florida nature reserve
Action: An alligator bursts up out of the water and pulls the bobcat underneath with its jaws
Ms Felton usually photographs birds but also has developed a passion for capturing images of bobcats.
She said: ‘I take a lot of bird photos but I am also always eager to take any animal photos especially bobcats, when I can find them.’
Ms Felton managed to spend much of last year following a particular family of bobcats at the Florida nature reserve.
She continued: ‘Bobcats are usually quite elusive but I’ve been lucky and have been able to watch a family of bobcats quite often throughout 2012.
‘I watched the young ones grow from blue eyed kittens into almost adults and fell in love with them.’
Trapped: The bobcat – which is normally around twice the size of a domestic cat – is wedge between the jaws of the alligator
Ms Felton spends time trying to protect the bobcats by not revealing their location for poachers to see and encouraging others to do the same.
She said: ‘I’ve become very attached to this family of bobcats and have even written a children’s book about them which I am in the process of illustrating with my photography.
‘It took me weeks to recover and come to terms with what I had seen, but that’s nature and how it works.
‘Since then I have spotted most members of the bobcat family – I can tell them apart by their facial markings.’
And Ms Felton believes it may be the father of the family who was caught by the alligator.
Rare pictures: Wildlife photographer Jamie Felton captured these images while visiting the nature reserve to photograph a family of bobcats
She added: ‘I have a feeling it was the father cat. He is one of the two I have not seen.
‘He may have been wounded by a new male in an attempt to take his territory and breed with the female.
‘That would have made him an easy target.
‘I’ve also seen the bobcats go to the waters edge for a drink or to chase a duck.
‘Since alligators can stay submerged under water for up to two hours, it’s not hard to imagine how they might surprise a bobcat that way.
‘Nobody saw it happen so we can only make an educated guess as to how an alligator could possibly catch a bobcat, but now we know one thing for sure, it definitely can be done.’
Up close: Ms Felton has spent several months following the bobcat family and believes the alligator killed the father of the pack