"Brave little hippo saves mother": The brave calf fought off a lion attack for 3 hours when its mother was stuck in the mud but all the predator had to do was wait.

“Brave little hippo saves mother”: The brave calf fought off a lion attack for 3 hours when its mother was stuck in the mud but all the predator had to do was wait.

This is the agonising moment a baby hippo bravely tries to save his dying mother from a hungry lion after she became stuck in a muddy riverbank.

The desperate calf is seen roaring at the prowling lion in a David and Goliath stand off in Kruger National Park in South Africa.

Kruger National Park, in northeastern South Africa, is one of Africa’s largest nature reserves, and its high density of wild animals includes the ‘Big Five’: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffaloes.

The bravest little hippo: A baby hippo steps in to defend its mother, which had ended up stuck in mud in Kruger Park

Protector: The lion can be seen lying in wait for the dying mother hippo while her heartbroken calf circles her

Coming closer: Noticing that the mother hippo was close to death, the lion decides to move in

Lions do not tend to target an adult hippo: despite their appearance – a large body and short, stumpy legs – hippos are fast, aggressive and have very sharp teeth.

However, it would appear that the weakened hippo stuck in mud and close to dying a natural death was too good of an opportunity to miss.

The lion did not seem to fancy its chances against the calf either, and reportedly left the scene after being chased off.

Sadly the tale did not have a happy ending. The mother hippo died of dehydration shortly after the photos were taken. Not yet ready to look after itself, the calf also died of a similar condition two days later.

No way out: The exhausted and weak hippy notices the lion coming closer but remains stuck in the drying mud

Taster: The lion gets its teeth into the adult hippo in front of its baby calf

Bad move: The lion soon learns that the calf may be a baby, but will defend its mother with its dying breath

Heartbreaking: The baby calf chases the lion off, but sadly neither mother nor baby calf made it, with both perishing from dehydration within a few days of these photos being taken

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