Animal enthusiasts know that Africa is the place to go to get a view of some of the most exotic, large, and most dangerous creatures on our planet. Graham Dyer, a photographer and nature enthusiast, decided to take a trip to the Kalahari Central Game Reserve in Botswana, Africa. While there Dyer came face to face with an event between a lioness and a small fox that seemed to defy the very laws of nature. You just won’t believe how this story ends.
33. The Kalahari Game Reserve.
Before we dig into the drama that unfolded between these animals, let us first set the stage. The Kalahari Desert is an expansive area of land in Africa but our story takes place in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. This reserve is located in Botswana and it covers just over 20,000 square miles of land. To put the size of this reserve into perspective: it’s the second largest game reserve in the world.
32. The reserve is home to all manner of animals.
Animals of every size, shape, and ferociousness live in the Kalahari Desert. People will travel from around the world to get an up close view of elephants, lions, rhinoceros, and even giraffes.
31. Our story is about a fox and a friendly lioness.
You could write a novel on the different animals in the Kalahari Desert but today our focus is going to be on two creatures: a little fox and a large lioness and how they came to be friends in one of the most dangerous places in the Animal Kingdom.
29. Lions rule the Kalahari.
Lions are apex predators and they are, without a doubt, at the top of the food chain in the Kalahari Game Reserve. These beautiful and ferocious animals can grow up to 500 pounds in weight while measuring up to 6.5 feet in length. These aren’t the kind of cats you want to cuddle.
28. Our unlikely hero arrives.
So how is it that this fox, smaller than your average dog, managed to stand tall in front of a pack of hungry lions? Certainly the fox didn’t fight them off. Mother Nature is full of surprises and you are about to witness a true miracle.
27. The fox was injured when the lioness approached.
Graham Dyer happened upon the scene at about this time. He saw that a little fox had been injured in a fight and he assumed that he was about to witness a lioness move in for the killing blow.
26. The lioness is a family oriented creature.
Though male lions are considered the hunters it is actually the lioness who does most of the hunting and nurturing. With a pack of hungry cubs at her side, how could she choose to pass up this easy meal?
25. A large male arrives.
Potentially sensing an easy meal, a large male lion shows up. However, things take a turn for the strange when the lioness defies her natural instincts.
24. The mother lion protects the fox.
Instead of going in for the kill the lioness instead turns on the rest of her pride, keeping them at bay. At this point, we are sure that the fox has no idea what is going on. By all rights the fox should be dead already.
23. The lioness seemingly adopts the fox.
Not only does the lioness refuse to eat the fox but she also appears to adopt it as one of her own. Here we see the mother lion lay protectively around the fox while her cubs look on in curiosity.
22. Graham makes note of the fox’s injury.
At this point in time our photographer notices that the fox seems to have injured its back. The fox doesn’t do much more than sit up, rarely ever trying to walk. It is likely that the fox was hit across the back while being hunted.
21. The pride includes the fox in an afternoon nap.
Male lions sleep upwards of 20 hours a day and, wouldn’t you know it, it was nap time already. Instead of killing the fox or leaving it alone the pride chooses to hunker down and include the little kit in their nap. The lioness sleeps close to the fox as if to protect it.
20. An important reminder of lioness prowess.
We just needed to remind you of how dangerous and powerful female lions are. Male lions are charged with defending their pride but female lions do all of the hunting and nurturing. This experience with the fox is a huge departure from natural behavior.
19. The male lion departs.
After tucking away a nice little nap the big male lion decides to leave. Perhaps he senses that there will be no meal coming. Despite the male leaving, the lioness chooses to stay behind with her cubs and the injured fox.
18. The male lion returns.
A short while later the big male lion returns. He appears frustrated by the continued protection that is given to the fox. Perhaps he is just hangry (hungry + angry) and that is why he lets out this mighty roar.
17. The lioness doesn’t flinch.
Despite the vocal protests of the alpha male, the lioness stands her ground. She refuses to leave the fox alone and in doing so has protected it from the angry male.
16. The mother lion turns on her protective mode.
The male lion gets too close for comfort and the lioness sends him reeling with a loud roar and a swipe of her paw. The lioness is clearly staking her claim on the fox and our terrified little fox isn’t quite sure what that means.
15. The above display mirrors how she protects her own.
Here we see another lioness fiercely protecting her own cubs. The facial contortions and protective bodily behavior are almost exactly what we see in regards to the fox. What’s going on? Has this fox become an honorary lion cub?
14. The fox is momentarily forgotten.
Mom and dad appear to be on better terms as they play in the grass with the cubs. Around this point is when Dyer noticed that another group of lions had shown up and they had brought food with them. It was lunch time.
13. A hungry cub standing by mom.
With fresh food waiting the cubs quickly abandon the little fox. The whole family turns toward their new meal with gusto and, we’re sure, at this point the fox is thinking that it just might survive. However, there’s still a long way to go!
12. The fox appears to be regaining strength.
After their meal the lions return to their watch over the fox. Graham starts to notice that the fox is beginning to act a little more energized. It appears that whatever was hurting the fox has healed up. Perhaps the fox was just frightened or maybe it was suffering from a bruised back.
11. The fox decides to leave.
Soon the fox is strong, or brave, enough to leave. Amazingly the lions let the fox go, not even attempting to attack it and bring it down for another quick meal. What brought about this act of kindness?
10. Our fox wasn’t quite safe yet!
The fox departs from its ‘protectors’ but soon runs into trouble when a pair of jackals show up, hungry for a meal. The fox must now be feeling like a little lion because it puffs its chest out and manages to scare away the predatory animals. The jackals abandon the fox and the fox quickly flees out into the Kalahari.
9. Dyer’s tour continues, but he keeps an eye on the fox.
While Dyer and the rest of his group continue their tour, the photographer keeps an eye out for the fox. He spots the same fox several more times during his visit at the Kalahari Game Reserve. Amazingly the little creature continues to survive and thrive in the dangerous desert.
8. So what happened between the lioness and the fox?
Encounters between large predators and snack sized creatures typically end up in a meal. What happened here? Why did the lioness choose to treat the fox like one of her own?
7. Scientists say that there was an instinctual factor involved.
Scientific studies show that it is instinctual for certain animals to care for their young. Was this lioness merely still feeling the instinctual effects of motherhood? Did she choose to extend compassion to the fox because it was similar in size to her own young?
6. Being a lion cub must be easy.
Despite the lioness extending compassion toward the fox, the cubs always seemed curious and on the brink of attacking the kit. This must have been an odd change of pace for these little predators.
5. The lioness who cared.
There are probably countless scenarios where the lioness simply kills the fox and allows her family to feed right away. Yet, it is the rare occasion that we just witnessed which keeps us so curious and so fascinated by nature. We saw a lioness extend love and comfort outside of her own species.
4. All species have their own nurturing ways.
Here we see another fox and her kit from the Kalahari. Did the fox that was spared in this encounter go on to have children of its own? Was the kindness of our lioness the instigator for a whole new generation of foxes in the Kalahari?
3. A truly incredible story.
The next time you see a picture of a lion try to remember this story. In a violent world, it can be nice to remember the lioness who befriended the injured fox.
2. The beautiful Kalahari has so much.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is roughly twice as large as the entire state of Massachusetts. Every single day animals fight for their lives in order to survive.
1. The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is a place of wonder.
On a daily basis humanity pushes animal species closer to the brink of extinction. That is why it is so important for places like the Central Kalahari Game Reserve to exist and thrive. Dyer’s trip to the park, like the thousands of others who visit every year, helps to keep the place staffed with conservation scientists and researchers.
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