2014 Whitley Award winner, Shivani Bhalla and her team at Ewaso Lions in Samburu, northern Kenya, witnessed an extraordinary event involving lions from her research project. A young elephant that died of natural causes in the Ewaso Nyiro River became the centre of a rarely seen battle between two of Africa’s top predators.

Lguret, the male Ewaso lion squares off against the hungry crocodile

The dead elephant, which had its tusks removed as part of Kenya Wildlife Service protocol to prevent poachers collecting them, was potentially a huge meal for the lions and Shivani and her team knew they would quickly be on the scene. Lguret, the dominant male in the area, arrived first and guarded the elephant carcass from crocodiles and marabou storks. Two females arrived soon after along with their five cubs.

Ewaso lions confronting the crocodile

Lguret and the two lionesses proceeded to fight off with one particularly aggressive crocodile, with the lions pouncing on and finally overpowering it. The crocodile eventually retreated into deeper waters defeated. Lguret’s name translates as “coward” but Shivani and her team are thinking that this will now have to change!

Lguret hits out at the crocodile
This dramatic encounter was captured on film by Kai Banks, a visitor to the Samburu National Reserve.