These incredible photographs show the moment a group of impalas leapt up into the air to escape the jaws of a crocodile.
Four antelopes jumped up in opposite directions after becoming aware of the danger in the water at Kruger National Park in northeastern South Africa.
The group immediately dashed away from the waterhole, where they had gone to quench their thirst.
One photograph shows the jaws of the crocodile coming frighteningly close to one of the impalas.
Four antelopes jumped up in opposite directions after becoming aware of the danger at Kruger National Park in northeastern South Africa
The amazing pictures were taken by South African amateur photographer John Mullineux, who saw several herds come up to the waterhole before fleeing the baby crocodile.
He said the impalas seemed to be aware of the presence of the crocodile but were desperate for water, so attempted to drink as far away from the predator as possible.
Mr Mullineux, 32, said: ‘The persistent drought made the rivers dry – as a result there are only some pools of water in the riverbeds for animals to drink from, and there is a high density of crocodiles.
‘Numerous herds had come to drink – and there was a baby crocodile at one side of the pool.
The group of impalas went to the waterhole to quench their thirst as a baby crocodile lay in wait at the edge of the water
The frightened African antelopes sprang up into the air as the hungry crocodile tried to pounce upon its prey
Amateur photographer John Mullineux said several herds came to drink at the pool but all the impalas managed to escape
A group of antelopes immediately dashed away from the waterhole as the crocodile became terrifyingly close to reaching them
‘It swam in, secured its footing, and positioned its body with its head facing the water’s edge. Only the croc’s eyes would move as it watched and waited.
‘Groups of impala would come to drink, seemingly noticing the crocodile and trying to drink far from it.
‘Every time the impala got close, the croc would strike – either one impala was brave enough to get closer to the teeth, or there were too many impala and one final incomer pushed one of its friends into the strike zone.’
Mullineux, who works as a chemical engineer, said the crocodile leapt out of the water whenever an impala came within range.
The baby crocodile jumped out of the pool as soon as one of the impalas became within range, Mullineux said
The crocodile lunges at the back of an antelope as it runs away. It only takes one impala to raise the alarm for the whole herd to flee
‘In the hours I sat there, there were five attempts – but every time the impalas got away,’ he said.
‘I could see the danger, as could the targets, but the degree of thirst experienced by the impala during this drought drove them to drink near such a ferocious predator.
‘Only in such extremes can one truly appreciate the struggle of life faced by wildlife and I know that, once the rains come and the seasons are restored, the gene pools will be stronger and my beloved fauna will be stronger for making it through this challenge.’
Impalas can jump distances of up to 33 feet to escape predators. It only takes one impala to raise the alarm for the whole herd to flee.
One impala, pictured from a different viewpoint, leaps away from the predator while a pair of zebras stand nearby
The baby crocodile failed to catch any of the impalas during the time photographer Mullineux was at the game reserve