These pictures show the incredible moment a fearless lion fights off a marauding young bull elephant in a desperate bid to protect its family.
Lasting less than a minute, the two enraged males squared up to one another before charging in a potentially deadly game of chicken.
While neither animal was hurt, it showed how merciless life can be on the plains of Africa where fresh water and water holes are at a premium.
The intense standoff took place in Botswana’s Nxai Pan National Park and was captured by Czech photographer Jan Hrbacek while he was on holiday last October.
Mr. Hrbacek said: ‘The young elephant came up to the waterhole, where the pride of lions was lying. The male lions tried to chase him away, but he became angry and chased them back.’
The standoff was short-lived and the elephant retreated, leaving the pride to lounge by the watering hole until dark.
The pride consisted of two adult males, four adult females, and ten cubs, some of which can be seen scattering in the face of the angry elephant’s charge.
Lion territories can be very large, and the animals can be good at hiding in thick vegetation and rugged terrain, so conservationists use collars to help monitor populations.
The male lion is also wearing a radio collar, which scientists use to track their movements.
Mr. Hrbacek said he was very happy but just as surprised to witness the battle.
He said: ‘The elephant was not very big, and no more than ten years old. I was very happy, as I’d never seen a confrontation like this before. I am glad I was there at the right time and at the right place – I felt like I was inside the natural world.’