HEARTBREAKING images show the moment when a giraffe mother accidentally pushes her newborn calf over a riverbank while trying to save it from a lioness.
The baby – only hours old – is too weak to climb back up the cliff, but miraculously survives a break from the hungry predator.
Shocking pictures show the youngster with his head in the lion’s jaws and then pulled in the neck over the river bed.
Its blinking eyes and soft breathing are the only signs that it is still alive.
The frantic mother is then seen repeatedly chasing the lioness away from the limp calf in a five-hour struggle for survival.
Unbelievably, the calf was later able to get back on its feet and ran out into the water, with the lioness still lurking nearby.
But after the exhausting struggle – and no milk from her mother – she finally could not hold her head up and drowned.
The incredible scenes were captured in the Masai Mara, Kenya, by safari guides Don Heyneke and Rustom Framjee.
Don, 30, told the safari Latest Sightings: “Thirty minutes after they are born, giraffes can already walk with minimal tripping, and within ten hours they can run.
“Unfortunately for this young calf, a hungry lioness and hyena showed interest in the calf immediately after it was born.”
Don said the hyenas quickly lost interest, but the lioness continued to pursue the herd of giraffes for 40 miles.
He said: “The newborn calf was knocked down several times by her mother when she tried to escape the lioness.
“After walking 6 km, the giraffe and her baby, who at this point had not even had a sip of milk in their lives yet, reach a dead end caused by a riverbed.
“The lioness crawls up to them and thinks this is the finale of an already intense series.
The mother tried to protect her calf from the lioness and panicked – she happened to bump the newborn down a cliff.
“Fighting for Survival”
“The newborn calf was now stuck in the riverbed. The mother tried to lure the young calf out but it was too weak to climb on the shore.
– The calf lay down and at this point had no chance against the apex predator who took the opportunity to grab the calf and carry it towards the water.
“The mother did her best to protect her newborn calf and chased away the lioness several times, and at this point we thought the calf was 100 percent dead.
“To everyone’s surprise, it stood up but not for very long as the calf ended up in safety in the river where it fell asleep from exhaustion.
“The giraffe cub, with a struggle for survival that no one has ever seen before, drowned.”
Last week’s dramatic images showed two 17ft male giraffes use their necks to hit each other in a bruised battle for supremacy during the mating season.
And last month’s video showed a tough giraffe snatched away an attack by six lions when they bit their legs and backs in hopes of a party.
Terrifying moment pride of hungry lions puts teeth in giraffes SURVIVING a wild attack
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