A wildlife researcher is lucky to be alive after a starving lion attempted to eat him in a desperate bid for survival.
Götz Neef, who had been undertaking fieldwork in Botswana with his colleagues, was sleeping in his tent on December 7 when the emaciated predator pounced.
Fellow researcher Dr Rainer Von Brandis was woken from his sleep when the struggle ensued. In a frantic bid to save his friend, Von Brandis - who was naked from the waist down - pelted the lion with elephant dung and whacked it with a tree branch.
According to a series of posts by Namibia-based freelance journalist and photographer Dirk Heinrich, Neef, 32, attempted to fight off the desperate predator, punching it on the nose. Head ranger Tomalets Setabosha also burst into action, throwing a flash-bang to frighten the lion. Setabosha then tried running over the big cat with his Jeep, which finally forced it to scarper.
Neef was taken to a hospital in Maun - a bumpy, three-hour drive from the Okavango Delta where the attack occurred - with 16 puncture wounds, broken bones and deep gouges from the claws.
Speaking to the Daily Mail following the attack, Von Brandis, 46, said he was alerted to the attack by Neef's screams.
"I guess I was not a pretty sight in just a T-shirt naked from the waist down and wearing a head torch screaming at this lion who was attacking my friend," he said.
Recounting his frantic efforts to save his friend, Von Brandis said the lion had been "seriously chewing" Neef's elbow and was impervious to his first attempts at distracting it.
"I was smashing the lion with the branch but it would not stop chewing on Götz and hardly even blinked when Tomalets threw a thunder flash-banger," he said.
Neef was airlifted back to Windhoek in Namibia, where he resides, and is recovering from his injuries.
Von Brandis added there is "nothing reckless" about camping in the wild as it's the only way to undertake their research, noting the attack was "extremely rare".
Park rangers decided to euthanise the elderly lion. The animal had been forced out of its pride by younger rivals and left to starve, prompting its frenzied, final attack on Neef.
As reiterated by the Botswana Wild Bird Trust, the emaciated lion was starving and acted out of sheer desperation.
"This unusual behaviour was due to the lion being old and emaciated. It has been put down after the relevant authorities assessed the situation and provided necessary permissions," the Trust said in a Facebook post.
Neef had slept out in the wild in his two-man tent more than 500 times, according to Heinrich.
As of December 19, Neef is "doing well" and doctors are satisfied with the healing process.
It's believed that wild lions, primarily elderly males, kill up to 200 people a year in Africa. The victims tend to be local people in remote villages, or poachers.