The сгᴜeɩtу of the wіɩd: These ɡгᴜeѕome pictures show a male lion саппіЬаɩіѕm which is гагe because male lions often kіɩɩ their young as a territorial act when they take over a new pride.

The сгᴜeɩtу of the wіɩd: These ɡгᴜeѕome pictures show a male lion саппіЬаɩіѕm which is гагe because male lions often kіɩɩ their young as a territorial act when they take over a new pride.

These gruesome photos show a male lion ripping into the body of a cub in a rarely seen act of cannibalism.

The powerful big cat was spotted by photographers who thought they were watching a mating couple in Tarangire National Park in Tanzania but were shocked to see a lion’s paw flick up above the long grass as he devoured a meal.

What makes the act even more shocking is the fact that the female sitting with him is almost certainly a relative and even likely to be its mother, as male lions usually kill the young as a territorial act when they take over a new pride.

These gruesome photos show a male lion ripping into the body of a cub in a rarely seen act of cannibalism

The powerful big cat was spotted by photographers who thought they were watching a mating couple in Tarangire National Park in Tanzania but were shocked to see a lion’s paw flick up above the long grass as he devoured a meal

The female sitting with him is almost certainly a relative and even likely to be its mother, as male lions usually kill the young as a territorial act when they take over a new pride

Though killing the cubs fathered by a previous dominant male is common, the act in itself is rarely caught on camera.

 

British wildlife Photographer Paul Joynton-Hicks MBE captured the harrowing scene on September 5 while taking a client on a private safari.

 

Mr Joynoton-Kicks, 44, said: ‘We had just had our picnic breakfast and were driving back to camp, past Silale Swamp.

‘We stopped the car when I saw the two lions, male and female.

‘Our initial thought was that they were a mating couple as we couldn’t see any other lions around, and when they mate, they take themselves off.

‘So we were watching them for a minute or so until I noticed the male was eating.

Though killing the cubs fathered by a previous dominant male is common, the act in itself is rarely caught on camera

British wildlife Photographer Paul Joynton-Hicks MBE captured the harrowing scene on September 5 while taking a client on a private safari

‘While we were watching them we saw the male pulling with his teeth and then the lion cub’s paw flicked into the air.

‘That’s when we realised he was eating the dead cub.’

The scene is so rare that lion expert Professor Craig Packer has never seen another instance, despite having written more than 100 scientific articles about the animals.

Professor Packer, director of the University of Minnesota’s lion research centre, said: ‘Sounds like the male recently entered the female’s pride and killed her cub.

‘This is the only time we’ve ever actually seen cannibalism of small cubs by males.

‘Mothers sometimes find the carcasses of their cubs that had just been killed by incoming males, and they, too, will eat the cubs in that context.

Professor Packer, director of the University of Minnesota’s lion research centre, said that it sounds like the male recently entered the female’s pride and killed her cub

Mothers sometimes find the carcasses of their cubs that had just been killed by incoming males, and they, too, will eat the cubs in that context

‘This is the most common context of cannibalism in lions, presumably because these are otherwise healthy cubs that are unlikely to carry dangerous pathogens that might be hazardous to the cannibals.’

Paul, who was raised in East Sussex in the UK, has lived and worked in East Africa for 22 years.

He added: ‘This is the first time I have felt unsettled by a wildlife encounter.

‘It felt like the lion was doing something wrong, and yet how can it? It’s nature working.

‘There is no shortage of food so he wasn’t hungry, and he wasn’t eating it in the normal greedy fashion, he was sort of picking, pulling, chewing and swallowing.

‘Almost just to make a point that he is the boss. There is some reason he was eating that cub, certainly not hunger. Who are we to say what’s right or wrong?

‘It was without a doubt the most extraordinary thing I have ever witnessed of wildlife behaviour and at the same time the most abhorrent.

‘As we got a little bit closer, he jumped at the female and she moved off.

‘He then picked up the dead cub and moved away a little bit. He stopped and ate some more then picked it up again and moved off into the bush.’

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