By Tom Gillespie @TomGillespie1

A COCKY hyena had a 'foot in mouth' moment when it was spotted carrying part of an ELEPHANT'S leg

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Leg work: The scavenger with its prized possession
Ankle biter: The hyena snacks on the elephant's foot

The scavenger even stopped to nibble the oversized snack while heading towards an active hyena den.

South African wildlife photographer Mike Dexter visited the elephant's carcass two days after the enormous mammal had died.

Although he was expecting other animals to have feasted on its fleshy remains, the 29-year-old was shocked to find a hyena had carried out an amputation.

Mike, who leads specialist photography safaris, said: "An elephant had died two days previously and I was on my way to it to see if there was any action, such as if there were any predators or scavengers around or any interesting interactions taking place.

"When I was about 500 metres from the elephant carcass I rounded a corner in my land cruiser and there, crossing the river bed towards me, was a young spotted hyena carrying part of the elephant's leg and foot.

"He was walking towards the location of an active hyena den so I imagine he was taking his prize back for the rest of the clan to enjoy.

"At one point, when he had come up alongside me, he stopped for a break and brief nibble."

Hyena's are notorious scavengers, and have been photographed carrying the heads of dead lions in their mouths.

Foot and mouth: The hyena is carrying a heavy load
The elephant had been dead for two days when the hyena came and tore its leg off

Despite having a penchant for picking the flesh off of rotting carcasses, the animals are also skilled hunters and catch the majority of their food.

Mike, who is from Grahamstown, South Africa, took the photos in Botswana's Mashatu Game Reserve.

He continued: "It was an extremely impressive display of strength.

"I’ve always known that hyenas have strong jaws and upper bodies but had never before witnessed just how powerful they can be.

"This was still a young individual and he had carried the limb with ease.

"I was also in a bit of a panic because I only had a few seconds to get the shot during which time I had to slam on the breaks on a steep descent, pick up my camera, turn it on, remove the lens cap and change the settings from those set the evening before.

"It was a bit of a rookie error, you should always have your camera ready to pick up and shoot while driving in the bush."

Mike took these photos back in July 2013, but the incredible images have now surfaced after he chose to share them with the media.