A baby elephant was eaten alive by a pack of wild hyenas while his helpless mother watched as they both got stuck in a mud pool on the plains of Zimbabwe.
The hyenas tore off the baby’s leg as they attacked it at night while the mother desperately threw mud over her head in an attempt to scare off the predators.
She then died slowly dead from death, lying next to her baby’s decaying corpse and was forced to watch it being plucked by looting vultures in Mana Pools National Park.
The horrific scene was captured by nature photographer Jens Cullman, 50, from Germany, who returned to the site to visualize the situation of the helpless mother and baby.
The mother elephant slowly died out of death as she watched hyenas eat her baby after being trapped in Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe. The baby was killed by the predators at night
The hyenas also tore the leg of the baby elephant after it got stuck in the mud
The mother desperately threw mud over her back in an attempt to protect her baby while vultures try to party on his corpse
The mother desperately imagined raising her head and torso while stuck in the swimming pool in Zimbabwe
Disturbing photographs of when he first found the stranded couple show the mother and baby desperately lifting their trunk in the air while being trapped in the mud pool while nearby hyenas patrol the area.
When he returned the next morning, he discovered that the baby was dead, with a pack of hyenas plucking his mutilated corpse while the mother could see alone.
He kept going back to the site to photograph the mother’s final days, while she slowly succumbed to dehydration. The last time he saw her, she was surrounded by vultures waiting patiently for her last breath.
The afflicted woman died later when an attempt was made to save her, Cullman said. He found them during a morning walk in the park and said he thought they were there for a few hours in advance.
“It’s the worst thing that can happen to a mother,” he said. “Both you and your baby get sucked in the mud and she couldn’t help it because her trunk was out of reach.”
“For the mother to see and hear the sounds at night while the hyenas kill her baby – I suppose that was actually very disturbing. “
The mother raises her ears and claps her trunk as she desperately tries to protect herself and her baby against the hyenas
The mother died out of death while she was trapped without food and water. She was also in full sun
The vultures depicted sat on top of the mother and waited around her before she died in the swimming pool in Zimbabwe
The mother and baby were pictured for a few hours of each other on a game walk. Hyenas were nearby
Mr. Cullman said he saw the hyenas coming on the first day. “They killed the baby at night,” he said.
“I didn’t see that. I am not allowed to go out at night in this park, so I went out first in the morning and saw the hyenas feeding on the baby. They must have killed it at night because I left in the afternoon while it was alive.
“The mother couldn’t move at all. At one point she raised her head when the hyenas were standing next to her and it looked like she was using her trunk to throw mud over her back at them.
“In a photo you can see her head and torso flying up in the air and mud flying through the air with vultures sitting on her baby.”
Mr. Cullman said he couldn’t save the pair because “you can’t just go out with a shovel and start digging.”
“I have other pictures of a similar incident,” he said, “where ten or 15 people are digging out two elephants … it’s a mission, it’s a big thing.”
Nature photographer Jens Cullman returned to the swimming pool to take the pictures. The mother is shown here and lifts her trunk while vultures enjoy themselves on the corpse of her baby
Hyenas feast on the carcass of the baby elephant while the mother lifts her trunk and blows her ears in an attempt to stop them
The mother desperately lifts her trunk while slowly succumbing to dehydration and hunger while being trapped in the pool
The mother imagined resting her head on the mud and lifting her trunk. Mr. Cullman said it was not possible to save them
He took the pictures of their suffering because it was an opportunity to document their struggle.
“If you break it down, it’s nature and this happens,” he said, “it’s the survival of the strongest. It was very difficult to take those photos, but I saw it as an opportunity to document it in a certain way. “
“I thought about posts for a long time or not because I thought they would have a significant impact on the viewer. For me it is shocking. The close-up photos of the baby in the mud are unique because it is so sad.
“You see this helpless little elephant baby and of course I knew he would probably die because I couldn’t help it myself.”
“I heard the mother die trying to save her. I have not been there anymore. I have to say that in the end it was so sad for me because I couldn’t do anything. ”
When Jens shared the photos, he said he got a kickback from people who said he could have tried to help the stranded elephants.
And he admits that although he believes it is usually better not to interfere with nature, he thought it was worth seeking help this time because so many animals had suffered.
The baby elephant pictured caught in the mud. It was almost submerged with only his trunk above the mud
The baby, pictured here almost completely submerged in the pool, was killed by a pack of hyenas at night
The baby pictured practically immersed in the mud with his mouth and body stuck in the swimming pool in Zimbabwe
Jens said: “I posted the photos and I got a lot of sh * t from people who said,” You just took these to get clicks and you could have helped these elephants. “
“But they don’t know the circumstances there. They don’t know what it’s like to dig an elephant cow out of the mud alone. It’s impossible. It is absolutely not possible.
“I usually feel that I am never concerned with nature, but this year it was so different in Mana Polish with all these animals that are hungry and suffering [due to drought].
“It makes a difference if you can dig out a few and they will survive. The number of elephants is decreasing and if you can save a handful more, I think it’s worth it.
‘My Instagram account is a mix of everything I think – hard things, brutal things, fun things and I think that’s the reality. I try to show the real nature – everything from very brutal, sad things like this to fun, cute things.
‘It is important to show the full picture because we have lost the connection. Most people on earth live in big cities. This is just the real nature. “