Sacrificial Love: Mother Elephant’s Heartbreaking Choice to Surrender One Twin to Lions, Ensuring Survival of the Other

This thirsty mother elephant was faced with a pride of hungry lions when she was forced to visit a quiet waterhole with her newborn twins.


During an early morning safari in Chobe National Park, 63-year-old Desmond Clack, a seasoned tour guide, captured this unique scene.

“We set off at dawn, entering Chobe National Park at 6 a.m. in search of elephants, we headed to a remote watering hole inland, as we hadn’t seen any the night before along the river.”

Upon arrival around 6:30 am, the first sight that greeted them was a pride of lions feasting on a young buffalo. “It was a special sighting, but what followed was extraordinary,” Desmond recalls. Just then, a female elephant, accompanied by her twin calves—a rarity in itself—approached the watering hole. Seeing an elephant with twins is a very rare occurrence. It must have been very difficult for the mother elephant to take care of two tiny babies at the same time. She had to find enough food and water for both and keep them safe.

“She was unaware of the lurking danger as she led her babies to quench their thirst. The mother elephant was desperate for water. The dry season had left few water sources, and this isolated waterhole was their only hope. Despite the risks, she had no choice but to lead her twins there. Suddenly, she realized the presence of the lions. The pride, having just fed, surprisingly turned their attention to the new arrivals.”

“The mother elephant realizing the danger, tried to fend off the lions. The lions retreated but soon regrouped, and this time they encircled the mother and calves. In a bold move to fend them off, she charged at them, hoping to scare them away. This left her calves momentarily unguarded. It was during this critical moment that the lions seized the opportunity to attack. In the chaos, one of the calves tripped, and a male lion saw its chance. He pounced and grabbed it!”

“The mother elephant rushed back, realizing the danger to her other calf. In a frantic bid to save her offspring, she was torn between protecting the second calf or rescuing the first calf. She rushed at the lions that had grabbed the first calf, leaving the second exposed. The lions took this moment to go at the second calf. Luckily for it, the mother returned in time to save it. However the first calf was not so lucky.”

The sighting ended with the mother elephant and her surviving calf escaping, leaving the lions and her first calf behind. At this point Desmond stopped filming because it was just too sad. He couldn’t keep watching as a little elephant was taken away from the mother, and she could do nothing but look on.

“In such moments, it’s best to understand the situation and remain quiet. Any noise can escalate the tension. It’s the harsh reality of the circle of life.”

“To witness an elephant with twins was a first for me, and the unfolding events were both awe-inspiring and heart-wrenching. In the wild, every day is a fight for survival, and this sighting was a testament to the incredible strength and resilience of these majestic creatures.”


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