Photographer Kimberly Maurer shot these astounding photos in Maasai Mara, Kenya. The photos show an elephant’s vicious attack on a buffalo in response to the buffalo’s trespassing onto the elephant’s territory.
Maurer was on holiday, visiting the game reserve to see the wildlife. She didn’t expect to see this, though. “I started looking through the images on the back of my camera immediately after the attack and became very excited to discover that I had actually captured the event in detail,” she stated.
Read on to see the photos and the aftermath of this encounter between beasts.
12. Only One Tusk
As the safari vehicle came upon this encounter, it edged closer to try to distract the buffalo. It didn’t work, though, and onlookers had to watch while it continued.
11. The Attack Continues
The mother elephant only has one tusk. You’ll see in the upcoming photos, though, that she was still able to wreck this out-of-line buffalo.
10. Mother Steps In
Adult buffaloes like this one can grow to be over 2,000 pounds—that’s close to the weight of a standard passenger car. But female African elephants grow to be over 6,000 pounds, so this buffalo’s fate was sealed.
“This photograph was, no doubt, a once-in-a-lifetime capture for me,” Maurer said of this shot. Here, you can see that the tusk has gone straight through the buffalo’s neck.
8. About Elephants
These elephant herds can range from between eight and 100 elephants in size. The herd’s matriarch will do anything to protect its members, as seen here.
7. Buffalo Down
Once the buffalo had been gored and tossed to the ground, the mother elephant continued to prod at it aggressively. Nobody on the safari could guess why the buffalo picked the fight with the calf in the first place. She may have had just one tusk, but she was able to defend her young all the same.
6. Elephant Cognition
Most ethologists believe that elephants are among the world’s most intelligent animals. Elephants show a variety of behaviors, including ones associated with memory, grief, learning, play, and compassion.
Elephant matriarchs are tasked with making life or death decisions on behalf of their herds, such as when to leave an injured family member, when to leave a drought area, and where to go.
5. The Buffalo’s Fate
There very well may have been something wrong with the buffalo, as it’s uncharacteristic for the animal to fight a creature much smaller and less threatening.
4. As For Buffaloes…
They’re still prey for several African species, like the lion. Pictured here, though, is an example of strength in numbers. This lion may have tried to pick a fight, but it’s outnumbered by the sheer size of the buffalo herd.
3. Lion Versus Buffalo
Lionesses typically hunt in groups and prey on large ungulates. Lions are expert scavengers and obtain over 50% of their food through opportunistic scavenging.
2. Fight Continues
Buffaloes are regarded as a dangerous species, and they kill up to 200 people every year. The African buffalo has never been domesticated, due to its unpredictable nature. Its Asian counterpart, the water buffalo, has been domesticated.
Buffaloes engage in what’s called mobbing behavior while they fight off predators. The herd will step in to chase off aggressors, and buffaloes have been recorded even killing a lion. Again, safety in numbers out in the wild.
Wild beasts are so incredible to learn about and to see in person. Still, safari trips aren’t without danger.
Millions of safe and incident-free trips take place across Africa every year, but social media has made it easier than ever to see the examples of safaris turned dangerous. It’s a simple fact that close encounters with wildlife are inherently risky, due to the unpredictability of animals.
Just like pilots, though, safari guides are rigorously trained and tested. It’s not an easy line of work to get into. So if you’re planning a trip to Africa anytime soon, you should be fine—just do your research!