Photographer Barbara Jensen Vorster was shooting in Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana last month when things began to unfold as she didn’t expect – a lioness ended up stealing her camera.
Shooting the pride from her 4x4, Vorster decided to try and take a video from her phone as well as snapping on her DSLR. Later noticing the phone slipping out of the tripod, she leaned to adjust it and accidentally lost grip of her camera. Upon being alerted by the noise of it hitting the ground, one lioness made her way towards the camera, causing the party to retreat. Vorster believes that although usually a very relaxed animal, the lionesses were being protective of their small cubs.
Next, the lioness scooped up the camera, before giving it to the cubs to play with. Despite the initial shock, Vorster was determined not to let the moment pass. Grabbing her second camera, she documented the moment the lioness carried the camera in her mouth.
Recalling the incident, which is sure to make any photographer wince, she said:
[The lioness] carried it for quite some way before she dropped it and the cubs pounced on it and started to play with it. They dragged it through the dirt, chewed on the lens hood and then fortunately, like most kids, soon grew tired with their new toy.
Eventually, she was able to seize the equipment. Vorster paid £200 ($260) to have the camera fixed – but chose to keep two “huge” teeth marks on the rubber focus rings of the lens, as well as other teeth marks on the plastic lens hood. "What photographer can boast that their lens had been in a lion's mouth?" she laughs.
Photos courtesy Barbara Jensen Vorster.