By Jack Williams
This fascinating set of images show a grieving lioness apparently adopting a baby SPRINGBOK as if it were one of her very own cubs.
The shots show the lioness holding the young springbok back from running away, cleaning it, pushing it around playfully – while refusing to allow other members of her hungry pride anywhere near it, after her own cubs were killed by a rival male lion.
Photographer Gordon Donovan, from New York, claims that the bizarre scene played out for more than two hours when he visited the pride in Etosha National Park, Namutoni, Namibia.
Gordon, 53, was informed by a guide that the lioness was part of a pride that had been overtaken by a new male, and, in doing so, the dominant male had killed the lioness’ male cubs.
The lioness was traumatized by the loss, the guide told Gordon, which may have explained her mournful behaviour towards the young springbok.
At times, the lioness even protected the bok from a pair of approaching pregnant lions that were hungrily in search of food.
Gordon said: “It was a bizarre yet stunning sight to behold.
“I was excited about the lions, and when she captured [the springbok], I was waiting for the kill of the small antelope.
“She never did, and started cleaning it like a cat cleaning her kittens.
“That’s the mysterious way of nature, never knowing what will happen next.
“Then she protected her adopted springbok cub from the other lions.
“These are the moments I always seek when I go to Africa.”