The lion is the king of the jungle but – like all mighty rulers – he is vulnerable to losing the respect of his subjects.
Shocking footage has emerged which shows a group of ferocious lionesses turning against the male of their pride, in an apparent attempt to kill him off.
The gory attack was witnessed by alarmed visitors at West Midlands Safari Park in Worcester, who observed helplessly as the enraged females pounced on the lion; biting into his flesh and drawing blood.
The once intimidating lion was clearly suffering a great deal; his amber eyes wide with terror and his piteous roar revealing more pain than power.
The extraordinarily raw footage was captured by 19-year-old amateur photographer Mya Beverstock, who visited the safari park with her parents on 5 September.
At around 11.45am, the family noticed the merciless lionesses surrounding the lion, before pouncing on him ‘out of the blue’.
Keepers hurried to the brutal scene; resorting to the use of fire extinguishers to break up the remorseless attack.
Mya, from Kenilworth, said:
I decided to go to the safari park with my mum and dad to take some pictures of the lions.
We had been sat there for a few minutes when we noticed these two male lions sitting on top a rock growling at something down below.
We drove around a little bit and I noticed these female lionesses surrounding a male. All of a sudden they just pounced.
They were biting at his back legs and his neck and pinning him to the ground, it looked really vicious and you can see in his eyes he thought he was going to die.
Within a flash, safari jeeps were there surrounding the lionesses. There were three vehicles, one was honking its horn while another sprayed an extinguisher.
There could be any number of reasons why they were attacking him. It could be that they thought he was too old to be their leader or it could have been over food.
He could have tried it on with one of the females, who knows, but they looked angry and pounced as if they are going in for the kill.
It was incredible to watch the king of the jungle looking so vulnerable. In the photos you can see him almost pleading for help.
He had bite marks and cuts on his back legs, he was pretty messed up. Its something you’d be lucky to see in Kenya, yet alone a British safari park.
You could see car windows going up and almost hear doors locking as it happened, it was just really intense to watch and listen to the roars.
We went back around later in the day and the females were nowhere to be seen. So they must have ushered them all indoors to protect the three males.
It was quite an experience which really took your breath away. I never expected to see anything like that. You could see the terror in his eyes.
It is unclear exactly why the lionesses turned on the lion with such savage intentions.
However, in their natural habitat, lionesses have been known to kill an elderly male if they believe he is no longer a fit ruler for their pride.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.