Tanzania National Parks Organization (TANAPA) shared a video of a lioness walking next to a wildebeest half its size in the Serengeti national park on January 9.
It is “escorting” the small animal to a safe location where the mother wildebeest can pick it up.
It was very unusual for this big cat to act like that. This was a case of the lioness’ maternal instincts overtaking her hunting instincts, explained TANAPA spokesman Pascal Shelutete.
Lions are carnivores with an extremely varied diet. However, zebras and wildebeest are popular prey because they are slower and easier to catch than creatures like antelope or gazelle, and are also less dangerous than buffalo.
Healthy adult lions need to consume an average of 5-7 kg of meat per day. In the wild, they don’t hunt successfully every day.
It’s rare for a lion to give up the chance to get an easy meal. However, this is not the first time scientists have recorded lionesses defending their prey.
A cʟip from the 2015 Smithsonian Channel documentary “Surviving the Serengeti” captures the moment a young wildebeest is born, is separated from its mother, and encounters an adult female lion looking for prey.
However, instead of rushing in to take down the wildebeest, the lioness allowed the small animal to snuggle up in her lap. In the end, the wildebeest cubs escaped death and even reunited with their mother.