Nature can be brutal, and understanding the intentions of the most formidable predators can be difficult. During photographer Evan Schiller’s 16-day trip to Botswana, he witnessed an enthralling interaction between a group of baboons and a pride of lions. When a lioness hunted one of the baboons, she spotted a newborn buried beneath the dying body of its mother. What happened next astounded Schiller and his buddies.
The juvenile baboon tried desperately to flee, scampering up a neighboring tree in a hopeless bid to escape. Despite his best attempts, he was too little and fragile to make much progress. The lioness diverted her focus to the unfortunate creature at that moment. The photographers observing the incredible incident braced themselves for the worst, expecting the lioness to devour the helpless baboon. A miraculous turn of circumstances, however, occurred. Instead of attacking, the lioness approached the infant baboon with loving and inquisitive temperament, and they quickly began to play together.
The extraordinarily caring lioness took the small baboon in her teeth and carried him away, eventually cuddling with him. The newborn baboon had clearly embraced the lioness as its new mother, and the lioness’ own maternal instincts had clearly kicked in.
“The lioness then carried the baby in its mouth (really, at that moment, she could have swallowed it whole without blinking an eye) and put it down on the ground in front of her,” Evan’s wife, Lisa Holzwarth, wrote. “What happened next blew our heads — the baby grabbed onto the lioness’ chest in another intuitive moment… The lioness was being as gentle as a 350 pound cat can be with a 3 or 4 pound baby baboon.” After a little time, a male lion appeared on the scene. As shown in the magnificent photos, the lioness leapt into action, protecting the infant baboon from the invader.
Meanwhile, the baboon’s father was perched atop a neighboring tree, keeping a close eye on the proceedings. Taking advantage of the lion’s temporary distraction, the father quickly descended the tree, gathered his babies, and climbed back up to safety. It was a remarkable turn of events! The infant baboon was first saved by the lioness, and then by his brave father. Clearly, some benign spirits were looking out for the tiny primate that day!