No escape: Water buffalo tries to flee a pride of lions by withdrawing to a lake… but eventually meets its end as patient predators wait to strike

This is the moment a young water buffalo tried and failed to escape becoming dinner for a pride of lions.

The female predators can be seen surrounding their skinny-looking prey before launching their attack at Sabi Sand, a game reserve in South Africa.

Hopelessly outmatched, the youngster tried to fend the lionesses off by heading into a watering hole, but they simply lay in wait for their dinner to emerge before launching a final, fatal assault.

Photographer Peter Fridle, 59, captured the incredible moment while out on safari, and was surprised by the how the kill unfolded.

This is the moment a group of lionesses attempted to bring down a young, weak buffalo while hunting on a Game Reserve in South Africa. Photographer Peter Fridle said that was one of two animals which came to drink at the hole before being targeted by the predators

One lion managed to grab on to the buffalo’s snout, meaning it could not turn its head to gore them as easily with its horns, while other predators leaped on its back in an attempt to bring it to the ground

Despite its slightly emaciated frame and small stature, even a juvenile water buffalo is many times stronger than the lionesses, forcing them to work as a team in order to claim the kill

The big cats wrestled with their quarry for around ten minutes before it managed to get away from them and back into a nearby watering hole, knowing that lions hate being in water

‘We arrived at the waterhole early in the morning, and a pride of five lions was sleeping close to the water,’ he said.

‘From another direction, two buffaloes tried to get to the water, and the lions hunted one of them. The buffalo was smart but too weak. To get the lions off, he moved to the nearby water, knowing lions hate it. You don’t see that very often.

‘But unfortunately, the buffalo had to leave the water eventually because he was too exhausted.

‘In a final attack, the lions overthrew the buffalo and kept him to the ground. One of the lions bit into the throat to suffocate the buffalo.

‘The whole thing lasted for about thirty-minutes, and it took about fifteen-minutes to kill the buffalo’

Lion populations have plummeted in the past century, dropping from an all-time high of nearly a million cats down to today’s estimate of just 20,000.

Peter considers himself very fortunate to have been able to capture an increasingly rare phenomenon.

‘What I love about this kind of thing is that it’s pure wildlife, wild and deadly. It’s definitely gruesome, but also thrilling.’

Mr Fridle said that it is not very often that you see buffalo use water in an attempt to escape being eaten. But while he said the young buffalo was clever, the initial fight had left hi exhausted

The lionesses followed the buffalo into the water up to a point, but were eventually forced to leave the animal. However, there was no lucky escape to be had, as the hunters were able to surround the water, cutting off all routes out

Tired, wounded, and with no help coming, the buffalo had no choice but to return to land where it was wrestled to the ground and then suffocated as one lioness got her jaws around its throat

Mr Fridle said the whole attack lasted about 35 minutes, though only around 15 minutes was needed to kill the buffalo, the other 20 were spent lying in wait. Even so, the lionesses needed to lay down afterward

Mr Fridle said: ‘What I love about this kind of thing is that it’s pure wildlife, wild and deadly. It’s gruesome, but also thrilling’