Often referred to as ‘King of the jungle’, there are not many creatures that could withstand a full-blown attack from a lion. Then again, there’s also not many animals that would have the cajones to attack another animal that can reach up to 5.5 meters (18 feet) tall. But visitors to the Klaserie Game Reserve in South Africa last week were treated to both in an astonishing 5-hour battle of the beasts, incredibly caught on camera.
Francois Pienaar, a safari guide who managed to film the attack, had taken a group of tourists out for an early sightseeing expedition into the park. “On our early morning game drive, we found a pride of sleeping lions, as they usually do. My guests and I were watching them sleep, never expecting I was about to see the best sighting in my guiding career!” he told LatestSightings.com.
What came next was an epic hours-long exhausting stand-off between the lions and an old male bull giraffe.
According to Pienaar, they watched the lions stalking the bull for about 20 minutes before they made their move. Two of the lions can be seen grabbing its back legs and holding on while another jumped onto its back. What do you do when you find yourself 3 meters (10 feet) up in the air? Hold on for dear life.
This kind of clingy takedown is quite common for lion attacks. Legs, back, jugular is the go-to order of events for most successful attacks, however, when the neck is 1.8 meters (6 feet) long, that can put a spanner in the works. The key is to bring the prey to the ground as quickly as possible, either by tripping it up or using their weight to push it to the ground. However, the lions seem to have bitten off more than they could chew, so to speak, as this giraffe wasn’t going down without a fight.
In fact, other than a leg wound, the giraffe doesn’t seem that fussed. It even manages to continue to walk with its lion entourage.
It is unusual for a stand-off like this to go on for so long. Yes, a giraffe is a huge meal that would feed the entire pride, but a giraffe’s kick is so strong it can break a lion’s back, making it a seriously risky gamble. However, most hunts by apex predators end in failure – lions for example only have a success rate of 25 percent, wolves 14 percent, and polar bears just 10 percent – so you have to be ambitious or take a calculated risk.
This one didn’t pay off, and in the end the giraffe managed to throw the lion off his back and fight his way out by trying to kick and stomp on the big cats, according to Pienaar. Giraffes can live for up to 26 years, and this one had probably been around the block a few times. It just goes to show, you really need to pick your battles wisely, even if you are King.