Life can be particularly brutal for young animals in the wild. When hungry lions set their sights on a newborn giraffe calf in South Africa's Pilanesberg Game Reserve recently, its mother's formidable defensive prowess just wasn't enough to save it.

The video, uploaded to Kruger Sightings, is a hard one to watch, so sensitive viewers be warned. 

Despite her best efforts, the mother giraffe was ultimately unsuccessful in her attempts to fend off the big cats. The encounter, filmed by local field guide Tarryn Rae, began with an initial strike from the lions that likely broke the young giraffe's leg. A broken leg for any animal in the wild is usually a death sentence, and even if the youngster had managed to survive this attack, other predators would have been waiting in the wings. 

It's not clear if the calf managed to get to its roadside resting place solo, or if it was dragged there by the lions between the mother's defensive advances. Lions will rarely attack an adult giraffe, but this time, teamwork proved enough to keep her at bay. In the end, the lions got their meal. 


Top header image: Daniel Goude/Flickr