This is the nail-biting moment an eight-year-old elephant manages to beat off a savage at.tack by 14 hungry lionesses.
The near-three-minute fight – captured on film by safari-goers in the South Luangwa National Park, Zambia – shows the feisty herbivore surrounded by predators near a watering hole.
As the lions viciously set about the tusked mammal – who was separated from its herd – they begin taking it in turns to leap on its back and sink their teeth into its body.
Jesse Nash, a New York-based journalist who witnessed the event, told MailOnline that he was desperate to go and help but knew that would be ‘breaking the rules of nature.’
‘We were on safari as observers, witnessing a cycle of life that is, at times, very cruel,’ he added.
In the video, Nash and other bystanders – including Long Island University art professor Dan Christoffel, British naturalist Steve Baker and Australian travel writer Nina Karnikowski – are heard encouraging the elephant to ‘Go on the fightback!’
In a bid to shrug off its at.tackers, the quick-thinking elephant darts into the water. However, the lions don’t seem too fazed by the wet, and several of them bound into the shallow depths.
After a lengthy battle, the elephant beats the odds and escapes unscathed. It is seen triumphantly flapping its ears, trumpeting and splashing through the water.
The gaggle of lions apparently left the scene and found a buffalo for dinner instead. The carcass was found ‘picked clean to the bone’ the next day.
The group who watched the fray from the safety of a Jeep were mid-tour with the Chinzombo Camp Norman Carr Safari company.
Their guide, Innocent, said of the incident: ‘In many years I have been a safari guide in Zambia at the South Luangwa, never have I seen anything like this.
‘We were all so worried the elephant would be killed right before us. What a fighter. It fought off all 14 lions – incredible.’
The elephant was reunited with its 60-strong herd the next day.
It has earned the nickname Hercules for its bravery on the battlefield.