It’s not every day that a camera captures an adult male lion getting its butt kicked. Most videos show the lion licking its bloody chops after taking down a gazelle or another plains game animal. But sometimes the tables are turned and the lion ends up on the losing end of the battle.
This video, posted to Instagram by user “savageanimall,” is short. It opens with a crowd of five or so sturdy cape buffalo, one of which is launching a tan body into the air with its horns. A dark mane becomes visible and viewers quickly realize the giant hacky sack is actually a male lion. And that lion is not backing down from the fight.
After getting lifted and tossed a second time, the lion jumps onto the buffalo and sinks its teeth into the buffalo’s withers. But this doesn’t last long before the buffalo lowers its head and punches its horns up into the lion’s gut a third time, flicking the big cat away like a mosquito.
The lion lands, looking stunned and momentarily humbled before realizing that the rest of the herd is right behind him. He leaps back to his feet and chases after the offending buffalo before quickly being struck down by one of the others (the herd equivalent of the strong safety after the defensive end misses a tackle). The video ends as the lion tumbles to the ground out of sight.
The relationship between lions and cape buffalo is complex. One study found that buffalo accounted for the largest percentage of a lion’s diet in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. They comprised 56 percent of all male diets and 33 percent of female diets, according to data from 245 kills and 74 fecal samples collected by researchers from Oxford University. But buffalo will also kill lions by trampling them, especially cubs.
There’s other footage of cape buffalo tossing lions around on the Internet. If you can ignore the strange U2-sounding music and occasional text overlays in this compilation, which has 11 million views, you’ll remember why, despite the lion being called the “King of Beasts,” the Cape Buffalo is known as the “Black Death.”