By Mason Jones
A wildlife photographer captured the nail-biting moment a fearless elephant took on a pack of 13 wild dogs to protect her herd in an Indian forest.
Mithun Hunugund, from Bengaluru, southern India, was on safari in Nagarhole National Park when he came across the Asiatic wild dogs attempting to ambush two young elephant calves.
In his footage, the female elephant can be seen running at the dogs, swinging her trunk and even pawing the ground and attempting to KICK the predators away.
Mithun, 29, said: “As we sat in the vehicle with the covers unwrapped we heard the troop of Bonnet macaques around us going haywire.
“As we set out a little further to investigate the reason for their nervousness we saw an elephant herd of 10 females and two calves huddled down the road and something walking towards them at a distance.
“It was a pack of 13 wild dogs on a hunt who were scouring the jungle for prey. The elephant herd had two tiny calves and because the pack size was quite big they were potential prey.
“The first thing they would tried to do was to create chaos and try to separate the calves from the adults – it was a tense moment for all of us.”
Mithun witnessed the adult elephants create a barrier between their young and the predators before the four tonne female decided to charge forward.
Asiatic Wild dogs, also known as Dholes, are known for their efficient hunting tactics and will feed on both smaller and much larger prey.
The slightly-built dogs, which are smaller than medium-sized domestic canines, are an endangered animal with a smaller breeding population than wild tigers.
Mithun said: “Once the herd realised that the dogs were around, they formed an impenetrable wall by surrounding both the calves.
“While this was happening, one member of the herd decided to take on the pack herself so that this could distract them and hence buy time for the herd to move away to safety.
“So she charged at them and started to kick the wet mud at each one of the wild dogs.
“I would be lying if I say I wasn’t concerned, seeing the tiny calves certainly makes you worry for their safety.
“At the end of the day I do understand that it is the law of the jungle, some creatures have to die for the others to survive – it’s as simple as that.
“If the dogs do not hunt then it’s not only them who would starve, but also the pups dependent on them – it’s a thin line.”
Mithun said the elephant’s brave effort paid off and the pack eventually decided to back away from the herd.
The photographer, who has a particular interest in leopards, travels extensively to capture wildlife with other nature lovers.
Nagarhole National Park, named after the river which runs through its centre, is home to a rich population of wildlife including tigers and elephants.
Mithun said: “Living is a city like Bengaluru is a blessing indeed for a guy like me with passion in wildlife.
“Having been born and brought up in the jungle, the bug for wildlife developed at a very young age and has only increased with time and age.”