These dramatic images show a young lion fighting for his life after a two-hour battle with an older male.
In the incredible series of pictures, the bloodied lion bares his teeth and raises its claws in an attempt to take on the older male in Cheetah Plains, South Africa.
But the youngster’s opponent is too strong for him – landing blow after blow with his enormous claws.
The two stand on their hind legs, almost like humans, and wrestle chest to chest.
At one point, the young lion launches himself at his opponent – but his attack seems to have little benefit.
Despite inflicting a series of deep wounds, the older male is unrelenting – and the newcomer appears to be moments from defeat.
But just as the youngster prepares for one last stand, two females swoop in and come to his rescue.
The female duo first circle the fighting pair, as if to assess the situation. Then one launches into the action, and swipes her claw at the youngster’s opponent. At one point, the young lion and the two females stand in a row and all show their teeth during the dramatic showdown. Eventually, the two males calm down and the four seem to rest for just a moment. The male then walks off and takes a drink at a watering hole.
The young male is part of a pride of two adult females, two sub-adult females and another sub-adult male. The lone male had been mating with the two older females, but the area is surrounded by other male coalitions – some six-strong – who could easily sweep him aside. Photographer Justin Glanvill described the action as ‘spectacular’. He said: ‘The sounds were overpowering and the pure aggression and the sustained onslaught from the older male was amazing to witness. But the amount of heart the young male lion had was also unbelievable – he stood up to a much older and stronger male and fought with all his might. There was lots of growling and snarling and then all hell broke loose. The older male caught the young male and proceeded to hit him with a barrage of shots. Then he had him on the ground where he inflicted more damage to the young male’s belly.
The females then came to the rescue, attacking the older male.’
However, Mr Glanvill, 29, believes that far from wanting to kill, the larger lion may have been trying to form a coalition.
Mr Glanvill, a field guide at Cheetah Plains Private Game Reserve, in South Africa, added: ‘Forming a coalition with the younger males would make sense, as otherwise he doesn’t stand a chance.’
But judging by these photographs the roaring younger male was driving a hard bargain and only time will tell if they will form a bond.