A zebra thought it had escaped the jaws of a hungry crocodile after scampering out of a lake—only to find itself in the jaws of two lions.
Videographers captured the footage in Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, and it was shown during a July episode of National Geographic's Safari Live.
The video starts with a zebra swimming away from a crocodile. Just when it appears to have reached safety, the camera pans out and shows two lionesses in the tall grasses. For a split second, the animals all freeze, waiting for the other's next move. The zebra then tries to run, but to no avail—a lion tackles it to the ground and the second one joins to take it down. (Read about how a zebra was saved after a lion attack in Kenya.)
"Predators are also by necessity opportunists," says Luke Dollar, a conservation biologist who heads National Geographic's Big Cats Initiative. "I'm sure the lions heard a lot of splashing on the river as the zebra was trying to cross and the lion was going after it."
The attack was somewhat typical for lions, says Anne Kent Taylor, a conservationist and Big Cats Initiative grantee. When hunting, lions will often show themselves to spook their prey, and drive an ambush.
"Poor zebra," said Taylor. "I’ve got such a soft heart I wish lions were vegetarians, but that happens quite often where lions wait at the banks."
Lions are also adept at nonverbal communication, which allows them to work as a team when hunting.
"It's all done subliminally. You’ll see them stalking and you’ll see the cubs hiding without any vocals that you can actually hear," said Taylor. (Read: Cecil the Lion's Son Xanda Also Killed By Trophy Hunter)
Lions have unique hunting methods, and this video was a "great opportunity to see just how good they are at what they do," said Dollar. (The Big Cats Initiative is working to study the animals and reduce the human-wildlife conflicts that are putting many lion populations at risk.)
"It was a phenomenal spot of luck to have a good videographer present," Dollar added. "Hopefully it will inspire people to protect these amazing animals."