These heart-breaking images show the final moments of a frail old lion who was once king of his land before he starved to d.e.a.t.h.
He was kicked out of his pride and became emaciated after the protection and food that his family used to provide was stripped away.
The lion, known as Skybed Scar, was well known in Kruger National Park, South Africa, where he was pictured.
Final days: The once mighty beast looked down to the ground as he lived out his final days in the Kruger National Park
Painful to watch: The frail old animal appeared to be in agony as it languished in the grass
Stripped of his strength: The lion, known as Skybed Scar, was kicked out of the pride he once ruled and his bones are now clearly visible
Starving to death: The pictures of the once mighty lion were taken by a visitor to the Kruger National Park, in South Africa
Fallen king: The lion lies d.e.a.d in the grass of the Kruger National Park, marking the end of his decline after losing his pride
The heart-breaking images were captured by Larry Anthony Pannell, 64, from California.
In his blog, he described coming across the lion, who he initially saw drinking from a watering hole.
‘After he had his fill of water he struggled to his feet hardly able to stand. What you did not notice while he was drinking, he literally was nothing but skin and bones.’
He describes how as the lion moved away from the water ‘he staggered as if he was drunk towards a small rise’ trying to catch his breath every few steps.
After reaching the rise he began slowly descending to the ground but eventually collapsed.
‘It was evident he was in his last days if not his last hours on this earth,’ he said.
After a while, Larry and a friend drove over to where the lion had come to rest.
‘We found him lying in the grass, exhausted unable to move. We were no more then five feet from him as he lay dying in the shade of a tree.
Move out my way: A large elephant brazenly approached the frail lion in the park as it crouched on the floor
I’m stronger than you: The King of the Beasts lets out a half roar of defiance but was in no condition to stand up to the elephant
Get out of here! Skybed Scar is forced to beat a hasty retreat in the face of the advancing elephant
Humbled: Male lions’ role in the pride is to defend it from attacks but when a successful challenger take over, the defeated male is forced out
I’m off: the lion realises the game is and turns to flee in the face of the much larger elephant
‘Dropping my camera we stared at one another locking eyes for what seemed for an eternity. I just wanted him to know that he would not die alone as he struggled to breath, his chest rising only every so often.
‘Then a last twitch of an ear, his last breath, he was gone. The King was d.e.a.d.’
He later said: ‘I knew that I was witnessing something very special nature, the real nature both life and d.e.a.t.h.
Photographer Larry Parnell took the images of the lions final moments
‘I sat with him only feet away, locking eyes and starting at one another as I watched for an hour as the life leave his body. I wanted him to know he would not die alone.
‘Not wanting to sound crass I remember when my grandmother was in the hospital and I visited her for the last time the night she passed.
‘We did not say a word, both of us just knew this was the end and we just stared at each other locking eyes.
‘This is the first time since then that I felt the same feeling – connecting with another being on a spiritual level, just knowing.’
While most big cats live solitary lives except for when they raise young, lions are the only big cats to live in family units.
The social structure of the pride is based on specific roles with lionesses the primary hunters and dominant males responsible for protecting the pride’s territory.
At around two to three years old, young males leave the pride and attempt to take over another male’s pride.
Fights to the d.e.a.t.h occur occasionally, and many a male in his prime has fallen acquiring or defending a pride.
Male lions frequently leave the pride after losing out in a fight to a challenger and it is likely the lion in these photos suffered that fate.
Surviving losers often become nomads, and have to fend for themselves so lose weight, and scavenge more than they hunt as they grow older.