By Rebecca Lewis @RebeccaSLewis

A DETERMINED buffalo fights off a hungry lion in a bloody battle to the death

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The blood-covered lion swipes at the buffalo with his sharp claws

The horned animal wrestled with the fearsome predator for an hour in the South Luangwa National Park, Zambia.

The buffalo and lion face each other during the fierce fight

As the strong animals clashed, it soon became apparent that neither would walk away from the fight unscathed, as the buffalo gored the big cat with its sharp horns and the lion sunk its claws and teeth into its prey.

Matt Armstrong-Ford, 25, from Eastbourne, who works for Shenton Safaris as a guide and camp manager, came across the bloody scene with the lion’s hooked onto the female buffalo’s muzzle.

The lion gains the upper hand as it bites the buffalo around its muzzle

He recognised the lion as a six-year-old feline who suffered from mange, a type of skin disease, and had become detached from his pride.

Starving: The hungry lion tried to take down the determined buffalo

“Both animals stared at each other both too exhausted to move.

“After a few minutes of rest the lion then went for the buffalo and another ten minute battle ensued. Again the buffalo managed to shake itself free.

The lion jumps onto the buffalo's neck...

“The same process continued for about an hour until both animals were completely spent.
“The rest of the herd, who had come to the water to drink were watching from a distance while the fight carried on.”

But the buffalo quickly shakes him off

As it looked like fortune was favouring the exhausted but ravenous lion a member of the buffalo’s herd came to its aid and delivered a deadly blow.

Defeated: The exhausted lion languishes on the ground, knowing the fight is almost over

Matt said: “That seemed to give the cow the opportunity it need to escape and along with the rest of the herd moved off.

“After this the lion managed to drag himself under a bush to lick his wounds. Both animals were covered in blood by the end.”

Two days later the lion succumbed to his injuries, while the buffalo’s carcass was found two weeks later having failed to fight off infection.

Last effort: The lion grabs onto the buffalo's leg in a last attempt to fight

Matt added: “I have never seen anything like that before. Usually when lion hunt buffalo it is as a pride – it is hardly ever alone.

“The fact that the lion was familiar to us and we had seen him in his prime made it very emotional to see him in the state he was in. By the end of the fight everyone was exhausted.”

But the battle is over and both animals will perish in a few days