See what happens when curious lion cubs venture too deep into crocodile territory, part of Stella Stewart’s exciting photo sequence from the Kruger National Park.

A 22-day stay in the Kruger National Park provided Stella Stewart with plenty of photo opportunities – but none touched her heart like this sighting of lion cubs braving the Crocodile River. Stella recounts her experience:

It was the morning of 26 October 2013 and we were leaving the Kruger National Park through Crocodile Bridge Gate. When we arrived at the bridge, we saw a lioness on the left side of the bank and her two cubs on the right.

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The lioness supervised as her curious cubs started swimming across the river, attempting to join her on the other side of the bridge. Suddenly, the mother jumped up and ran onto the bridge, alerted to imminent danger.

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We followed her gaze to see a crocodile swimming towards the cubs. The lioness snarled from where she stood, hoping to keep the hungry crocodile at bay with her fangs.

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But the crocodile was undeterred, bearing down on the cubs under the bridge.

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One cub turned back towards the bank and had nearly reached the shore, snarling at the croc as it loomed closer.

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The mother lioness jumped into the water to fend off her cub’s reptile attacker but was too late – the crocodile’s strong jaws snapped at the cub and pulled it out of sight.

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The lioness was unsuccessful in her attempts to jump on the crocodile as it disappeared under water. She continued her search for the missing cub from shore, reuniting with the lucky cub who’d escaped the crocodile’s jaws.

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While we were saddened by the one cub’s untimely end, we were thankful the other cub escaped the same fate. It was a dramatic last sighting after a wonderful three weeks in Kruger!And on a happier note, one month later the cub and its mother were spotted again – both doing well.

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