When your daily routine involves paddling across rivers where crocodiles lurk, it helps to have a trusty sidekick watching your back. A lion in Botswana was lucky to escape unscathed recently when an ill-fated river crossing landed the big cat in a tussle with a croc. Fortunately, his big brother was there to save the day.

Another angle:

The dramatic footage was captured near Wilderness Safaris' King's Pool camp last month. This perilous stretch of water is the Linyanti River, which doubles as a border between Botswana and Namibia. The feline duo was initially spotted drinking from the watercourse, before the younger of the two began wading into dangerously deeper croc territory. The more experienced lion, apparently aware of the lurking reptile, showed some hesitation, but eventually swam out after his younger brother.

An opportunistic crocodile was quick to spot the splashing lions, and moved in for what seemed like an easy meal. But the reptile wasn't counting on the larger cat coming to the rescue. After a short scuffle, the two lions ended up on different sides of the river, while the croc moved off to find food elsewhere.

"We thought the older one was gone, but then we saw him pull himself into the reeds – incredibly, they both survived with no injuries," explains the tourist who filmed the heart-racing scene. "The older brother was stuck on the Namibian side of the river for the rest of the day, while the younger one waited for a while, before finding a young lioness and mating with her."

The lions should consider themselves lucky. Nile crocodiles are ambush predators with an extremely powerful bite and cone-shaped teeth that make it difficult for prey to break free from their grip. And it's not just the grazers that have to avoid the snapping jaws of crocodiles – predators are fair game too. Although they dine primarily on fish, crocodiles will not turn their snouts up when a feline meal presents itself (and vice versa).

The lion duo eventually reunited later that afternoon, hopefully having learnt where not to cross the river.