By Tom Gillespie @TomGillespie1

RAVENOUS lions feast on the body of a hippo that had strayed away from the river

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Lions in the South Luangwa Valley have become skilled at killing hippos who stray too far from the river

Lions in Zambia's South Luangwa Valley have become adept at killing the enormous animals, that drift away from their normal habitat during the dry season.

With the hippo's lethal tusks and powerful jaws, the big cats take a sizeable risk when attempting to take down one of the animals.

However when they get it right the hippo's carcass is a huge reward and provides many days of feeding.

Photographer Lee Whittam watched eight lions visit the carcass in just a few days

With the hippo's lethal tusks and powerful jaws, the big cats take a sizeable risk when attempting to take down one of the animals.

However when they get it right the hippo's carcass is a huge reward and provides many days of feeding.

Feeding time: A powerful male lion stands over the hippo carcass

In Zambia's dry season hippos begin to journey away from the river to get food, making them an ample target for the audacious predators.

When safari guide Lee Whittam revisited the scene over the the course of a few days, he saw eight lions had arrived to enjoy the feast.

A herd of elephants also arrived at the site of the carcass, and charged at the lions to protect their young.

Tiring work: A male lion appears to yawn while feasting on the hippo

Lee, 41, who is originally from Zimbabwe, photographed the scene whilst taking tourists on a private safari.

He took the photos in September, and said: "In this particular area there are several prides of lions that have become specialist hippo killers.

A herd of elephants arrived at the carcass and charged at the lions to protect their young

"They patrol the Luangwa River during the evenings as the hippos leave the river to feed.

"This hippo was killed less than 200 yards from the river.

"We found the kill just after first light when the lions had just started feeding.

One of the predators had some of its dinner round its mouth

"We also watched as a herd of elephant approached the kill site.

"When they realised lions were there the young calves grouped together in the centre of the herd while some of the larger adults charged the lions trying to intimidate them.

Vultures swooped down to the pick the flesh of the carcass

"The reason for this is that the lion on occasion will kill young elephants, especially these lions that are adept at pulling down larger animals such as hippo."

The lion's kill also served as a food source for other animals - with hyenas and vultures enjoying the remaining scraps.