Two lions fending off animals isn’t necessarily a viral clip waiting to happen. They’re not called “king of the animals” because they’re they’re known for being underdogs in savannah showdowns, after all.
However, when the enemy is a pack of 20 hyenas, that’s actually pretty cool.
And when you throw in narration by veteran nature broadcaster David Attenborough, well, now you’ve got viral glory.
The video was released as a promo for BBC Earth’s “Dynasties,” a show that looks at “the true stories of five of the world’s most celebrated, yet endangered animals; penguins, chimpanzees, lions, painted wolves and tigers.”
No, we’re not doing an advertisement for the series, although sometimes state-sponsored media piffle can produce decent material. Slick nature documentaries featuring a pro like Attenborough certainly fall under this category, particularly when they involve a fight to the death involving lions and hyenas.
As the fight starts, a lion named “Red” by the documentary team is exploring the boundaries of the pride and has met up with a group of hyenas.
A pack of hyenas — actually a “clan,” as Attenborough reminds us — numbering over 20 has Red trapped and is wearing him down for the kill.
Imposing, bass-heavy music announces definitively that Red is decidedly in deep trouble. He begins tussling with them, but as Attenborough notes, “it’s impossible to fight them all at once.”
However, that’s when another lion named Tatu “heard the commotion.”
As Tatu saunters over — as much as a lion can ever “saunter,” it must be noted — the hyenas begin to back off.
Both Red and Tatu roar the hyenas away, and the two share a moment of lionly affection as the clip ends.
While hyenas are much smaller and don’t really come to mind when you think of the world’s great predators, they’re not the literal laughingstock of the wild that they’re made out to be.
As safari operator Siyabona Africa points out on its website, the hyena often isn’t the scavenger of lion kills. Instead, it’s often the other way around. (There’s no denying it’s tough going in the wildlife world.)
“A kill can change hands a number of times between lions and hyenas. In many areas of Africa the hyena hunts more food than it scavengers and lions scavenge more than they hunt,” the website notes.
“Hyenas react very differently to male and female lions. When hyenas are on a kill and lions are attempting a takeover the hyenas will stand and fight if it is a group of lionesses involved but as soon as a male lion is in the picture the hyena will give a wide berth.”
There was, of course, no wide berth in this situation, which emphasizes the point is that the hyena isn’t necessarily going to be the one backing down to a lion, either.
As for two lions, well, that’s a horse (or apex predator) of a different color.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.