These Epic Buffalo Vs. Elephant Photos Just How Brutal Wildlife Can Be


featured-imagePhotographer Kimberly Maurer shot these astounding photos in Maasai Mara, Kenya. The photos show an elephant’s vicious attack on a buffalo in response to the buffalo’s trespassing onto the elephant’s territory.

Maurer was on holiday, visiting the game reserve to see the wildlife. She didn’t expect to see this, though. “I started looking through the images on the back of my camera immediately after the attack and became very excited to discover that I had actually captured the event in detail,” she stated.

Read on to see the photos and the aftermath of this encounter between beasts.

12. Only One Tusk

001-12-only-one-tusk-6c3fe95fc70697b57acecb32ebd352eaHere’s what started the incident. Buffaloes are not generally a threat to elephants, and the same is true for the opposite. This time, though, an enraged buffalo decided to attack a defenseless baby for no apparent reason.

As the safari vehicle came upon this encounter, it edged closer to try to distract the buffalo. It didn’t work, though, and onlookers had to watch while it continued.

11. The Attack Continues

002-11-the-attack-continues-47cb1bdee1fa4d61e02b49accb9b7139Here, the buffalo continues attacking the defenseless elephant calf. The calf had been separated from its herd and was simply too small to defend itself.

The mother elephant only has one tusk. You’ll see in the upcoming photos, though, that she was still able to wreck this out-of-line buffalo.

10. Mother Steps In

003-10-mother-steps-in-d41439d78f13afba7ee1f2af92a6bd3eThis altercation began when the mother heard her elephant calf’s cries during the initial attack. She charged the buffalo and knocked him off of his feet, straight into the air.

Adult buffaloes like this one can grow to be over 2,000 pounds—that’s close to the weight of a standard passenger car. But female African elephants grow to be over 6,000 pounds, so this buffalo’s fate was sealed.

9. Killed

004-9-killed-17b56812d13abda207c0831381b029feHowever, the buffalo’s torture didn’t end with just a strong toss from the mother elephant. He suffered much more serious wounds.

“This photograph was, no doubt, a once-in-a-lifetime capture for me,” Maurer said of this shot. Here, you can see that the tusk has gone straight through the buffalo’s neck.

8. About Elephants

005-8-about-elephants-7a135a494cc46585636c4823a0319580Elephants form deep family bonds, just like humans. Elephants live in closely-knit matriarchal herds, led by the oldest and largest female in the herd.

These elephant herds can range from between eight and 100 elephants in size. The herd’s matriarch will do anything to protect its members, as seen here.

7. Buffalo Down

006-7-buffalo-down-43447e7c71106b6e431e3801f35ae25cOnce the buffalo had been gored and tossed to the ground, the mother elephant continued to prod at it aggressively. Nobody on the safari could guess why the buffalo picked the fight with the calf in the first place. She may have had just one tusk, but she was able to defend her young all the same.

6. Elephant Cognition

007-6-elephant-cognition-4e98acc97ba50ac85e26480708464c11Most ethologists believe that elephants are among the world’s most intelligent animals. Elephants show a variety of behaviors, including ones associated with memory, grief, learning, play, and compassion.

Elephant matriarchs are tasked with making life or death decisions on behalf of their herds, such as when to leave an injured family member, when to leave a drought area, and where to go.

5. The Buffalo’s Fate

008-5-the-buffalo-s-fate-ecc97ce078e55515bac3a709e9077734“As you would imagine, his carcass was a meal for another animal or two,” said Maurer. The mother was just protecting her herd.

There very well may have been something wrong with the buffalo, as it’s uncharacteristic for the animal to fight a creature much smaller and less threatening.

4. As For Buffaloes…

009-4-as-for-buffaloes-7080f04ba08248c72a8b1eca1cb98380The buffalo itself is a large and tough animal. Growing up to be 2,000 pounds, buffaloes are equipped with massive horns that can easily pierce flesh.

They’re still prey for several African species, like the lion. Pictured here, though, is an example of strength in numbers. This lion may have tried to pick a fight, but it’s outnumbered by the sheer size of the buffalo herd.

3. Lion Versus Buffalo

010-3-lion-versus-buffalo-e16b4b156d77975036225aac6c6bb77dHere’s a pride of female lions attempting to take down a buffalo for a meal. Lions do not outweigh buffaloes like elephants do, so it takes many hunters and a lot of time for the kill.

Lionesses typically hunt in groups and prey on large ungulates. Lions are expert scavengers and obtain over 50% of their food through opportunistic scavenging.

2. Fight Continues

011-2-fight-continues-89d6823d4d9966377000e94952f61f0dHere, the lionesses continue to attack the buffalo that has been separated from its herd.

Buffaloes are regarded as a dangerous species, and they kill up to 200 people every year. The African buffalo has never been domesticated, due to its unpredictable nature. Its Asian counterpart, the water buffalo, has been domesticated.

1. Slipping

012-1-slipping-4acc002a06bb88bef1a5fc62d0ce3f9eHere, the lioness slips off of the buffalo’s back. This is likely a moment when the buffalo would try to charge and escape the attack.

Buffaloes engage in what’s called mobbing behavior while they fight off predators. The herd will step in to chase off aggressors, and buffaloes have been recorded even killing a lion. Again, safety in numbers out in the wild.

Wild beasts are so incredible to learn about and to see in person. Still, safari trips aren’t without danger.

Millions of safe and incident-free trips take place across Africa every year, but social media has made it easier than ever to see the examples of safaris turned dangerous. It’s a simple fact that close encounters with wildlife are inherently risky, due to the unpredictability of animals.

Just like pilots, though, safari guides are rigorously trained and tested. It’s not an easy line of work to get into. So if you’re planning a trip to Africa anytime soon, you should be fine—just do your research!