This young wildebeest looked destined to become lunch for a hungry leopard – but the big cat hadn’t counted on a powerfully protective mother.
These jaw-dropping shots show the predator stalking and then pouncing on the seemingly doomed six-month-old calf.
However, its nearby mother was well-placed to react quickly and counteracted with a precision horned-headbutt to the leopard’s upper body.
Defence: A young wildebeest looked destined to become lunch for a hungry leopard – but the big cat hadn’t counted on a powerfully protective mother
In a blink of an eye, the stunned cat went from being the attacker to scampering off with its tail between its legs with the angry female in pursuit.
The stunning images were captured by Martin Farrell, 54, from Bristol, who was taking a Kicheche safari camp tour of the Mara North Conservancy in Kenya.
On the prowl: The hungry leopard spots its next lunch and skulks forward
Skulking: The leopard moves through the grass nearer to his unaware prey
Waiting: The animal stops to watch the pair before pouncing
Kicheche guide Benjamin Kaluena, who spotted the cat and sensed that there may be action, said: ‘Leopard kills in daylight hours are incredibly rare but in over 5,000 game drives I have never seen anything like this!’
Kathy said: ‘We have done many safari but have never seen anything remotely like this and somehow Benjamin put us in the right place at the right time.’
Kicheche camp co-owner and wildlife photographer Paul Goldstein explains: ‘Martin and Kathy Farrell stopped to observe a sleeping leopard. It soon awoke and immediately started hunting.
Attack: The leopard launches forward and sinks its teeth into the baby wildebeest
Distraught: The terrified calf vainly attempts to get away from the clutches of the leopard
‘This was a big, fully adult male after a young wildebeest which, during migration will form a major part of its diet.
‘However, having brought it down with a tackle any rugby wing forward would have been proud of, it was not prepared for the ‘mother-lode’ of anguish and protection the wildebeest mum threw at him.
‘Chastened and bruised it slunk away to lick its wounds. Somehow, despite their feverish excitement, Martin and Kathy took some amazing images andfootage.
‘The wildebeest cow could easily have paid the ultimate sacrifice with this astonishing show of tenaciousness, but did not.’
Back to the rescue: As the leopard firmly grabs hold of the wildebeest its mother approaches
Protective: It’s nearby mother is well-placed to react quickly and counteracted with a precision horned-headbutt to the leopard’s upper body
Determined: The mother rams her horns into the predator lifting it into the air
Escape: The calf escapes to safety as the mother takes on the leopard
Terrified: The beast runs off in fright after the mauling as the younger animal escapes
Turn around: In a blink of an eye, the stunned cat went from being the attacker to scampering off with its tail between its legs with the angry female in pursuit