It is well known that nature can be cruel, and it can be difficult to understand the intentions of the most dominant predators. This reality was evident during photographer Evan Schiller’s 16-day expedition to Botswana, where he witnessed a captivating interaction between a group of baboons and a pride of lions. When a lioness hunted one of the baboons, she discovered a newborn hidden underneath its mother’s lifeless body. What unfolded next left Schiller and his companions amazed.
The young baboon frantically attempted to flee, scampering up a nearby tree in a futile effort to escape. Despite his best efforts, he was too small and feeble to climb very far. At that moment, the lioness turned her gaze towards the helpless creature. The photographers watching the extraordinary scene braced themselves for the worst, anticipating that the lioness would swiftly devour the vulnerable baboon. However, a miraculous turn of events occurred. Instead of attacking, the lioness approached the baby baboon with a gentle and inquisitive demeanor, and they began to play together in a matter of moments.
The exceptionally tender lioness lifted the little baboon in her mouth and carried him away, gradually cuddling with him a short while later. It was evident that the infant baboon had instantly accepted the lioness as its new mother, and the lioness’ own maternal instincts had unmistakably kicked in.
“The lioness then carried the baby in its mouth (really at that moment she could have swallowed it whole without a blink of an eye) and put it down on the ground in front of her,” Evan’s wife, Lisa Holzwarth, wrote. “What happened next blew our minds -– the baby, in another instinctual moment, held onto the lioness’ chest … The lioness was being as gentle as a 350 pound cat can be with a 3 or 4 pound baby baboon.”
After a short while, a male lion made an appearance on the scene. The lioness sprang into action, protecting the baby baboon from the intruder, as depicted in the stunning photograph above.
Meanwhile, the baboon’s father had been perched atop a nearby tree, closely monitoring the situation. Seizing the opportunity presented by the lion’s brief diversion, the father rapidly descended the tree, gathered up his offspring, and swiftly climbed back up to safety. It was an extraordinary turn of events! The baby baboon was first rescued by the lioness and subsequently by his courageous father. Clearly, the little primate had some benevolent forces looking out for him that day!