A predator was left hiding at the top of a tree in South Africa in a desperate bid to avoid becoming prey itself after an elephant chased it away from its herd.
Photographer Kevin Dooley, 60, captured the moment a leopard was forced to jump into a tree to try and stay out of range of the determined elephant.
Dooley, from Albuquerque, New Mexico, took the striking pictures at the Madikwe Game Reserve as the bull elephant headed towards the big cat.
The images showed the elephant trying to reach up into the tree’s branches with its trunk as the leopard sought safety.
A leopard was forced to hide at the top of a tall tree in South Africa in an attempt to stay safe after being targeted by a bull elephant
The elephant was spotted walking all around the tall tree at Madikwe Game Reserve, in South Africa, raising its trunk up towards the hiding leopard
The bull elephant even tried blowing dirt out of its trunk in the direction of the leopard to try and scare it away – though the big cat refused to come down from the tree
Refusing to move, the leopard stayed on high alert on its perch at the top of the tree as the bull elephant stalked it at the base
Kevin said: ‘The bull elephant smelled the leopard from a mile off. He approached the tree and tried to run the leopard off but the leopard held tight.
‘I was watching for approximately an hour to an hour and a half.
‘Finding leopards in the wild can be quite difficult, however to witness an interaction between an elephant and a leopard is certainly a once in a lifetime experience. I could not believe what I was witnessing.’
In the wild, elephants have been known to target large predators such as lions or leopards, acting aggressively in order to defend other younger members of its herd.
The elephant tried all manner of ways to reach the leopard atop the tree, including grabbing the base with its trunk
With the big cat having leapt up to relative safety in the tree, the elephant continued to circle round the base, waiting for an opportunity to scare the predator away
Elephants are known to chase away predators such as lions or leopards if they consider them a danger or threat to their herd
Despite the angry elephant’s best efforts, the leopard remained jut out of reach on the tree branch
Though not always chasing the animals into trees, elephants will often make trumpeting noises to scare off the predators.
As herds wander through the savannah, they will communicate with one another through low rumbles – including alerting members of the group to potential dangers.
Individual predatory animals, such as leopards and lions, stand little chance against even the smallest of adult elephants due to the protective group mentality of the herds – with other elephants charging or displaying aggressive body language to deter would-be attackers.