The baby elephant escaped thanks to his intelligence, tricking the lions into the water when attacked by 14 hungry lions.

This is the nail-biting moment an eight-year-old elephant manages beat off a savage attack by 14 hungry lionesses.

The near-three minute fight – captured on film by safari-goers in the South Luangwa National Park, Zambia – shows the feisty herbivore surrounded by predators near a watering hole.

As the lions viciously set about the tusked mammal – who was separated from its herd – they begin taking it in turns to leap on its back and sink their teeth into its body.

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Ride along: The elephant tries to keep moving as the lionesses sink in their teeth and claws during the sunset battle in Zambia

I’m slipping! A lioness clings to the back of the elephant and tries to scale his backside as others circle around it

All aboard: The lionesses take it in turns to jump on to the elephants back, while its makes a beeline for the safety of the water

Pack attack: The lionesses overcome the baby elephant, bringing it to its knees in the fight at in South Luangwa National Park

Jesse Nash, a New York-based journalist who witnessed the event, told MailOnline that he was desperate to go and help but knew that would be ‘breaking the rules of nature.’

 

‘We were on safari as observers, witnessing a cycle of life that is, at times, very cruel,’ he added.

In the video, Nash and other bystanders – including Long Island University art professor Dan Christoffel, British naturalist Steve Baker and Australian travel writer Nina Karnikowski – are heard encouraging the the elephant to ‘Go on fight back!’

In a bid to shrug off its attackers, the quick-thinking elephant darts into the water. However, the lions don’t seem too fazed by the wet and several of them bound into the shallow depths.

After a lengthy battle, the elephant beats the odds and escapes unscathed. It is seen triumphantly flapping its ears, trumpeting and splashing through the water.

The gaggle of lions apparently left the scene and found a buffalo for dinner instead. The carcass was found ‘picked clean to the bone’ the next day.

The group who watched the fray from the safety of a Jeep were mid-tour with the Chinzombo Camp Norman Carr Safari company.

Their guide, Innocent, said of the incident: ‘In many years I have been a safari guide in Zambia at the South Luangwa, never have I seen anything like this.

‘We were all so worried the elephant would be killed right before us. What a fighter. It fought off all 14 lions – incredible.’

The elephant was reunited with its 60-strong herd the next day.

It has earned the nickname Hercules for its bravery on the battlefield.

Lets all go swimming: With the watering hole in sight the elephant gains speed as the lionesses make a final attempt to ground it

Home stretch: A stubborn lionesses refuses to let go as the elephant reaches the waters edge, and the cats are faced with a tough decision

Water sports: A lioness clings on for dear life on the elephants back, as other members of the pride scurry back from the waters edge

Come on in the water’s fine: Having seen off its attackers, the elephants turns and gives chase to the scaredy cats

Catch me if you can: The elephant, safe at last, takes a few steps into the watering hole, while the angry lionesses watch on

The hunted becomes the hunter: Refreshed and reinvigorated the elephant emerges from the water and chases one of the lionesses off

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