When the Lion Lies Down with the Lamb

You could be forgiven for thinking this lioness is simply messing around with her supper.

However, these stunning images show the huge beast tending to a tiny springbok as if it were her own child.

The lioness adopted the baby when her own pups were s.lai.n by a competing male lion, despite the fact that antelopes are her natural prey.

The remarkable scenes of her carefully caressing the antelope, licking it clean, and guarding it from h.arm were captured by photographer Gordon Donovan.

At Etosha National Park in Namibia, she even defended the bok from a pair of pregnant lions looking for food.

‘It was an odd yet stunning sight to behold,’ said New York-based photographer Mr Donovan. I was looking forward to seeing the lions, and when she caught the springbok, I was ready for the k.ill.

‘However, it never arrived and began cleaning the calf.’ Nature is fascinating in this manner; you never know what will happen next.

‘She then guarded her adopted springbok cub against the other lions.’ When I travel to Africa, I look for moments like these.’

A b.ereaved lioness appears to adopt the infant springbok as if it were one of her own pups in this remarkable series of photos.

After her own pups were .slai.n by a competing male lion, the lioness holds the baby springbok back from going away, cleans it, and pushes it about playfully – all while refusing to let other members of her ravenous pride near it.