See Three Male Lions Give It Their All in Epic Turf Battle

Written by Sharon Parry
Updated: October 20, 2023
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Lions are social animals and live in groups called prides. These are made up of mainly female lions and their offspring but there are also a few males. It is the females that raise the cubs and hunt for prey. Meanwhile, the males are in charge of patrolling and protecting their territory. So, what happens when they identify a threat to that territory? In this video, we get to find out.

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Turf Battle Amongst Lions

At about three years of age, young male lions leave their pride and try to find a pride of their own. This involves taking over the pride of another male and, unsurprisingly, this leads to a lot of conflict. Only one in eight male lions survive to adulthood and get to breed to produce cubs of their own. You may also see groups of males ganging together to control territories (which can be thousands of acres in size) and they can kill hundreds of rival males and cubs in an attempt to maintain dominance.

At the start of this lengthy footage, filmed in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve, we see two younger male lions called Maridadi and Kaka fighting an older and more experienced male called Ololparpit. Their aim is to take over his territory and his pride.

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Two male lions fighting

Male lions can fight to the death for territory


The Fight to Survive and Breed

This is a protracted battle. We start in the thick of the action with the lions running around and we can hear a lot of growling and snarling. Through the swirling dust we get a view of the three lions biting each other and wrestling on the floor. Sometimes two are fighting, with the third watching on but at other times all three are in combat at the same time. There are also times when all three seem to need a breather and stand looking at each other panting.

It is upsetting to see that Ololparpit seems to be injured (across the top of his hind leg) and very distressed. But he still defends himself bravely when the other two lions launch another attack.

There is another prolonged and tense pause whilst the lions recover and pace around.

As the footage ends, we are very concerned for Ololparpit’s safety because he seems to be curled up on the ground and in pain. We learn from the video notes that he is calling out for his partner after the fight. We also learn that, had he lost the fight, Maridadi and Kaka would have probably killed the cubs in the pride to stimulate the females to want to mate with them and therefore produce their own cubs. Nature at its most brutal!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © J_K/

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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