The pair has become stuck in mud in Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe, when Wildlife photographer Jens Cullmann captured the tragic scene.
A pack of hyenas take the opportunity to feast on the d.e.a.d baby elephant
One hyena t.o.o.k off with one of the elephants feet
The mother raises her trunk as she attempts to battle for life
The utterly helpless baby elephant became stuck in deep mud – only to be e.a.t.e.n by hyenas and vultures in front of its mother.
Wildlife photographer Jens Cullmann, 50, came across the pair and was unable to dig them out alone.
The unique photos show close-ups of the almost completely submerged calf helplessly waving its trunk as the mother tries desperately to get free.
With only her back above ground, she is out of reach from her baby and forced to watch as hyenas circle.
At one point, the exhausted mother slings mud at the hyenas and later at vultures as they crowd around picking at her youngster.
Trapped and dehydrated, the elephants can only move their heads and their trunks.
Devastatingly, the baby was k.i.l.l.ed by hyenas overnight.
It’s mother also d.i.e.d a few days later despite a rescue attempt to dig her out.
Days after the gruesome photos were taken, hyenas were still seen scrapping over the poor baby’s limbs.
One hyena patiently waits from the ground above
The helpless elephants are seen completely paralysed in mud
A close-up shows the almost completely submerged calf helplessly waving its trunk
Hyenas scrapped over the poor baby’s limbs the following day
The mother is seen with just its back above ground and out of reach from her baby as a hyena circles
The mother appears furious as she slings mud at the hyenas
‘SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST’
Jens said: “I thought a long time about posting or not because I thought they will have quite an impact on the viewer. For me it’s shocking.
“The close-up photos of the baby in the mud are unique because it’s so sad.
“You see this helpless little elephant baby and of course I knew it would probably d.i.e because I couldn’t help it on my own.
“You can’t just go out with a shovel and start digging. I have other photos of a similar incident where ten or 15 people are digging out two elephants. It’s a mission, it’s a big thing.
“Seeing the mother still alive was actually quite sad and cruel in a way. Just to imagine it’s the worst thing that can happen to a mother.
“Both you and your baby get stuck in the mud and she couldn’t help because her trunk was out of reach.
“For the mother to see and hear the noises at nighttime when the hyenas k.i.l.l her baby – imagining that was actually very upsetting.
“There’s one picture that’s also quite sad when the mother is still alive with vultures around her and one is sitting on her back while she can’t move.
“But if you break it down, it’s nature and this happens. It’s survival of the fittest.”
Some criticised the photographer for not helping the stranded elephants.
But Jens replied: “I posted the pictures and I got quite a lot of sh**t from people saying ‘you just took these to get clicks and you could have helped these elephants’.
“But they don’t know the conditions there. They don’t know how it is to dig an elephant cow out of the mud alone. It’s not possible. It’s definitely not possible.”
He added: “I try to show real nature – everything from very brutal, sad things like this to nice, cute things.
“It’s important to show the full picture because we’ve lost connection. Most people on Earth live in big cities. This is just the real nature.”
Half-way submerged, the mother tries to free herself from the mud
Only a sliver of the baby elephant can be seen just poking through the thick mud
A photo from a distance shows how submerged the elephants are in mud
Tragically, the elephants did not survive from the hyena attack
The mother is seen still alive with vultures around her as one sits on her back while she can’t move
The scene took place at Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe
The eager hyenas make off with a lucky meal
Devastatingly the baby was k.i.l.l.e.d by hyenas overnight
Despite a rescue attempt, the mother d.i.e.d a few days later
The photographer said It’s important to show the photos because ‘we’ve lost connection to nature ‘Credit: Kennedy News/Jens Cullmann
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