A researcher was left with sixteen gruesome bite marks after he fended off a starving wild lion by punching it in the face.
Outdoor expert Gotz Neef, 32, was asleep when he heard a noise outside his tent at the Okavango Delta retreat in Botswana, South Africa.
As a shadow creeped closer to the door of the pod, Gotz instinctively struck out with his fist.
Unbeknown to him, he had just punched a starving lion as hard as he could.
The wild beast was now infuriated as well as hungry – and the pair scrapped for five minutes as desperate Gotz battled for his life.
Not wanting to be a midnight snack, the wildlife researcher fought off the predator long enough for a colleague to come to his rescue.
Brave researcher Dr Rainer Von Brandis ran semi-naked from his tent to take on the giant cat, armed with nothing but a branch.
The 46-year-old said: “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!".
The married father-of-two from Cape Town is the Research Director of the Wild Bird Trust was on an expedition with his pal Gotz and six other researchers in the wilds of Botswana.
He said: “I heard Gotz screaming there was something big outside his tent and I ran out in the pitch black with my head torch on and saw this big male lion had collapsed his tent.
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“It had one paw on Gotz and fortunately was chewing on the tent poles rather than him and I just saw some big piles of dried elephant dung and pelted the lion with it really hard.
“That didn’t work so I threw thorn branches at it but that didn’t work either and by now the lion had Gotz by the elbow and was seriously chewing him and my friend was screaming.
“I was nearly naked and was screaming as well and ran up to the lion and beat it with a big piece of a tree but it did nothing and then our head ranger Tomalets Setlabosha came out.”
The courageous colleague said he was smashing the lion with the branch as it would not stop munching away at Gotz.
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In fact the beast did not even blink when a thunder flash banger used to scare giant hippos was thrown right under his nose.
The beast was so hungry that it continued to try and chow down on the terrified explorer.
Dr Brandis said: “Then Tomalets jumped into the Land Cruiser and ran the lion over but it would not leave Gotz alone and he had to run it over three times before it let go and ran off into the bush.
“The lion was euthanised which was the kindest thing to do for it as it was skin and bone and would have died an agonising death at the jaws of other lions or starving to death if left alone.”
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Gotz was then rushed to hospital before being airlifted to Nambia where he lives, and is now recovering.
Lucky-to-be-alive Gotz had sixteen deep and extremely painful fang bites stitched up in his arms, shoulders and head which left him covered in blood and he was also clawed by the lion.
Gotz, who lives in Windhoek, said: “I heard something moving around my tent and looked at the time and it 01.26am then saw a head pressed against my tent and a nose.
“I did not know what was outside my tent and started calling for help and hit the nose with my fist as hard as possible and then it attacked me and began trying to bite and maul me.
“I heard Rainer shouting “it’s a lion” and I tried to back into a corner of my tent and tried to push the lion away with my sleeping bag but it was determined to attack me.”
The Botswana Wild Bird Trust said that the Department of Wildlife and National Parks were contacted and assessed the lion’s condition and agreed that it was kindest to put it down.
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