Humm! Maybe I'm not that hungry today: Male lion incredibly ignores wildcat family as kittens cower next to predator

Humm! Maybe I’m not that hungry today: Male lion incredibly ignores wildcat family as kittens cower next to predator

A tiny caracal cat mother stood up a fierce lion to protect her kitten from being eaten by the huge predator.

The large male lion tried to grab the bite-sized snack when he discovered the much smaller feline and her kitten hiding in the long grass of the bush in the Ngorongoro Crater, in Tanzania.

But despite its size, the 28.5st (400lb) heavyweight didn’t bargain on the ferociousness of the 1.8st (12kgs) mum, which weights around the same as a Corgi dog, defending her young so vigorously.

The kitten even gave a few hisses as a bemused male lion looked down on the small snapping cat.

Despite both mum and kitten being in danger of being killed with just the swipe of a paw, the male lion eventually backed down and ran off to chase after a gazelle.

The stunning encounter was caught on camera by conservation ecologist and wildlife blogger Nic Proust, on October 3.

Spotted: The male lion sees the mum and her kitten in the long grass of the Ngorongoro Crater, in Tanzania, east Africa

Going in for the kill: The lion makes a move for the caracal cat as it tries to defend its young from the ferocious predator

Waiting game: The male lion watches the caracal kitten, as it sits out of shot to the left, as its anxious mother (right) watches on trying to defend the youngster

 

David and Goliath: The tiny caracal and the huge lion in a Mexican stand-off in the middle of the African planes as the smaller animal hissed and snapped at the bigger cat

Photographer Nic Proust said, describing the epic tussle: ‘With heightened aggression mum swung around snarling at the big lion. ‘Her plan worked. She lured him away and again she allowed him to get closer than one would think possible’

 

Face off: Despite the size difference the small cat was not put off by the size of the lion and still took on the larger predator

‘Why did the lion decide to spare the kittens life? Was the male lion more interested in the lions nearby? Why did he waste his energy chasing the female around instead of just killing the cubs? If it is down to competition why have lions been recorded killing species like serval or aardwolf then?’ Photographer Nic said after witnessing the stand-off

Tense: The tiny kitten (middle left) bravely growling at the male lion as its mother also hisses at her huge adversary in the Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania, around 6.45am on October 3

Nic Prous added: ‘Either way. this was an incredible spectacle of nature, the challenges that these animals face on a daily basis are beyond what one can imagine – in fact we only witness so little of what actually happens out there and every time we do, we learn about the fascinating behaviour of these creatures’

 

NIc said: ‘Just like humans though, we can’t make a blanket rule about how species must behave. We always like to have the answers to why something is the way it is but sometimes we must realise that we will never know all the answers’

Nic, who runs conservation blog bush24.com, uses his 12 years working in the field in northern Botswana to now lead groups to find incredible wildlife encounters across Africa. But even for a veteran of the continent’s amazing wildlife, Nic said this moment was really special

 

‘I do suspect that there is a lot more going on with wildlife than we mostly give credit for – perhaps the predators of the Ngorongoro Crater interact differently to others in other areas and perhaps there is more tolerance from a big male lion towards a caracal that he has possibly run into a number of times in this small piece of paradise they both call home,’ said Nic

You want some?: The tiny caracal kitten is just visible in the grass (right middle) bravely hissing as it faces potentially being eaten in one bite by the lion who looks confused by the smaller cat in the Ngorongoro Crater

Nic added: ‘The male had spotted the kittens and he was on a mission to find them. Their mum though, incredibly returned to the area just a few seconds after her near miss. The big lion sniffed around and first I was relieved to see that he hadn’t noticed the one cub*maybe it had a chance’

Although the mum had made it, Nic said the lion spotted a gazelle and made off for new prey. He said: ‘Her persistence was paying off. The lion took his eyes off the youngster and focused on their mum once again’

Still looking: After beginning to chase the pair of small cats through long grass the huge lion went off in search of bigger prey

 

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