Watch: Lioness makes sacrifice to save cub from hungry hyenas

A lioness and her cubs were enjoying a meal in a tree when a clan of hungry hyenas arrived and surrounded the tree in hopes of a helping of leftovers.

One of the cubs inexplicably jumped down from the tree—an apparent attempt to flee the scene—and was instantly surrounded by the hyenas and their snapping jaws.

“The cub was fear-stricken; it froze,” Benji Solms, a guide at Serondella Game Lodge in Kruger National Park in South Africa, told “The whooping sounds of the hyenas, accompanied by their very scary sight, made him shiver in his skin. He realized that he had made a life-threatening mistake!”

The mother lion recognized the threat of losing her cub to the hyenas, dropping the impala carcass from the tree and jumping to the ground to confront the hyenas.

“She gave them a stare of death and stood firm,” Solms said. “It worked, and the hyenas instantly turned their attention from the helpless cub to the meat in front of them.”

The hyenas scurried off to feed on the carcass, and the cub was safe, thanks to its mother who sacrificed dinner to make the rescue.

Story originally appeared on For The Win