This is a truly heartbreaking moment as a baby elephant stands by her deceased mother’s side, attempting to rouse her with gentle nudges from her trunk.
Despite eventually accepting the tragic loss of her mother, the calf refuses to leave her side, keeping a watchful eye over the body for hours amidst the long grass of Kenya’s Masai Mara.
Heartbreaking: A baby elephant mourns the tragic loss of her mother in this poignant moment. Other members of the herd gather around to pay their respects in a touching display of emotion.
The cause of the mother elephant’s death is uncertain, though it’s believed she slowed down and collapsed at the back of the herd. Scratches on her body suggest that lions attempted to maul her before the herd retraced its steps to locate the missing elephant, with the predators lurking in the grasses.
Wildlife photographer Sarah Skinner captured the elephants bidding their final farewells late last year.
“It’s always sad to hear of another gracious giant passing,” said Sarah, 38. “I had a lump in my throat as I watched on, completely shocked by the incredible behavior we were witnessing.”
Mourning: The elephants gather in a mourning circle as they take in the loss of the elder elephant
Farewell: The elephant lifts her trunk as she is forced to say her final goodbye to her mother
Realisation: The dead elephant can be seen on its side as the herd encircle the body
Leaving: As the other elephants began to move away, the baby elephant lingered beside its mother, extending their final moments together.
“It was a deeply emotional and poignant moment,” recalls the observer.
The young elephant remained at her mother’s side, occasionally touching her body with her trunk. It was clear that the mother’s passing had a profound effect on her offspring.
The other elephants, who had gathered nearby, came closer to pay their respects. Some reached out with their trunks to touch the deceased mother, while others stood in silence, mourning their loss.
Heartbroken: The elephant sadly leaves its mother behind after the attack as the herd moves away.
The herd gathers around their fallen leader with curiosity and apparent sadness.
As the solemn procession moves on, the baby elephant is left to grieve alone by her mother’s side.
She stays with her mother as the day draws to a close, affectionately nudging her trunk.
Even when lions and hyenas arrive, the elephant stands her ground over her mother’s corpse, guarding it long into the night.
Sarah, from Berkshire, said, “It was an emotional scene that I will never forget.”