By Bunmi Adigun @Bunmi Adigun

AN encounter between a herd of cape buffalo and a pride of lions produced one of the rarest and most heartbreaking scenes ever captured in the wild

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Videographer / director: Rob The Ranger
Producer: Bunmi Adigun, Ed Baranski
Editor: Sonia Estal

After taking down a lone female buffalo the lionesses at the Greater Kruger Park, South Africa, were faced by the angry herd coming to the defence of their fallen comrade.

Within a few short moments the herd tended to the already dead buffalo, seemingly trying to get her to wake up.

Cameraman and veteran safari guide, Rob Vamplew, filmed the bizarre event on a visit to the game reserve in April 2017.

He said: “It is not uncommon for buffalo herds to try to rescue a member that is being attacked by lions, or even chasing lions from a kill, but I have never seen a herd licking and nudging a member of the group that is already dead.”

The odd scenes took place after the small group of lionesses were able to take down an already injured female buffalo who was part of the herd.

The take-down of the injured animal required the full cooperation of all the lions, as cape buffalos are considered to be one of the most dangerous animals in the African savannah due to their volatile temperament and intimidating size.

Without any hesitation the expert team of lions were able to corner the buffalo and brought her down to the ground with little resistance.

It’s at this pivotal point in the kill that the pride’s teamwork fully comes into play as each lion takes turns trying to rip through the buffalo’s two inch thick hide as another suffocates it whilst muffling its cries for help.

Rob said: “The lionesses all came in from separate directions creating confusion and panic within the herd, and the buffalo that they caught got left behind in the panic.”

Typically in the wild when hunting buffalos, lions use the element of surprise to scatter the herds which sometimes can be as many as 150 buffalos.

However it wasn’t long until the herd managed to regroup and descended on the lionesses who were by this time watching over the buffalo carcass.

The lionesses were forced to make a hasty retreat after being scared off by a lone male buffalo which can weigh upwards of 500kg; and the rest of the herd soon followed.

Obviously distressed, the buffalos began licking the feet of the dead buffalo and nudging at her to get up.

Rob explained that this strange behaviour lasted for more than 10 minutes before the herd decided to move on.

He said: “I don't think the herd quite realised that the other buffalo was already dead, it seems they were trying to help her up.”