Shocking footage shows the reckless tourist reaching out of a safari 4×4 to ruffle the big cat's mane.
The fully-grown beast then bares its fangs and roars its displeasure – forcing one terrified passenger to yelp "close the window".
Another rushes to slide the glass shut as the lion glowers through the window.
South African safari ranger Naas Smit said: ”Only those who work in the wild know the speed of a lion and it could have torn the arm off the person touching it.
“It would have the power to pull that tourist straight out of that window and kill them instantly in front of their friends. It was an incredibly stupid thing to do.
“It could also just have easily crashed its way through the open window and torn into those inside. They were lucky to get away with it. They are wild animals.
“If the lion had killed this person then game rangers would probably have had to have killed it and if it was the pride male it could have serious consequences.
“I just have to shake my head when I see people behaving like this and they deserve all they get” he said.
Last month British safari park owner Mike Hodge was savaged by one of his own lions after stepping into its cage.
Mr Hodge, 72, from Wilmslow in Cheshire, suffered a broken jaw and lacerations following the brutal mauling at the Marakele Animal Sanctuary in South Africa.
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