Vicki Santello

Camera: Canon R5

Lens: RF100-500mm f/4.5-7.1

Aperture: f/6.3

Shutter speed: 1/800

ISO: 400

Description: A zebra locked into the iron grip of a lioness struggles for air as the clenched teeth of the lioness cut off oxygen. The zebra fought bravely but succumbed to the power of the lioness.

Story from behind the lens: A small herd of zebra were drinking peacefully from the Sand River when a lioness exploded out of her hiding place for a full on ambush. The herd panicked and scattered. Several crossed the river to the side of the bank near my vehicle position. Sammy quickly repositioned us to where the action was. We saw the full drama unfold for the one zebra who had been too slow to escape. The zebra put up a brave fight to save its life with hooves kicking and powerful legs resisting the force of the lioness. All efforts were futile. The iron grip of the lioness was inescapable. Her powerful front leg encircled the zebra's neck and head and every muscle bulged from the effort of subduing her prey. The zebra was losing oxygen to the lion's clenched teeth blocking off her windpipe and her struggles only accelerated the suffocation process. Within minutes the zebra's legs started to buckle and her eyes began to bulge. In contrast, the lioness had her eyes shut tightly giving every ounce of energy to her kill. It was a mercifully quick death and the Cycle of Life once again ruled absolute.