By Dean Murray via SWNS
This lion cub is pictured being paw-ly treated by its furry relatives.
Wildlife photographer Paul Goldstein observed the scene in Kenya’s Masai Mara in January.
Four six-week-old cubs gently practiced their fledgling hunting skills by pawing and nibbling at the tiny week-old.
The youngster had been dropped into the open by one of the older lionesses.
Despite the cubs seeing it as a game, it didn’t spell good news for the newborn.
Paul explains: “This was not only far too young to be in the open but it was also painfully apparent that the mother cared little for this impoverished infant.”
He managed to observe the pride for two days, but wasn’t able to see how the uncomfortable situated resolved.
“Over the next two days she was a largely stayaway mum but somehow the tiny kitten survived.
“Unfortunately, the larger cousins treated her like a punchbag, displaying about as much compassion as the mother.”
“Fate unknown but these incidents rarely have positive endings,” he added.
Chris Packham, BBC presenter and the photographer’s friend, commented on what Paul captured:
"As cruel as it may seem animals can be very quick to abandon their offspring. This is likely to be because they have sensed there is something wrong with them, something which will compromise their ability to survive and reach adulthood.
“And the energetic investments of conceiving, carrying, birthing/hatching and rearing are profound and can significantly negatively impact the fitness of the parent(s).
“Thus, continuing to invest in ‘flawed’ offspring is too dangerous a proposition and they are not cruelly, but necessarily abandoned.
“Of course, in some instances they are actively and instantly ‘recycled’ as they are killed and eaten by their siblings or the adults. Nature may appear harsh and unkind, but it runs by the mantra of ‘survival of the fittest’ and ultimately it works.”
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