An old lion simply could not go anymore against two younger rivals.
Life is rough on the African plains, even when you are the "king of the jungle." Lions may be large, intimidating, and fearsome creatures, but every animal has its breaking point. Especially when they get older and simply cannot fight anymore. In the complex social structures built by lions, one can only keep their status for as long as they can defend it.
Case in point is this lion fight captured on video in South Africa's Kruger National Park. Two younger males have picked a fight with an obviously older lion in a battle for who rules this area. Amazingly, the old lion continues to battle, even as the younger big cats rip and tear at his flesh.
It is a brutal fight to watch, but indicative of the types of struggles that animals experience every single day in the wilds of Africa.
From his gray hide and extremely dark mane, it appears this lion was very old. His body appears to be extremely skinny. Odds are his teeth were quite worn down too from years of feasting on other animals. It is very likely he faced off against similar challenges from rivals in the past. However, his prime is long past, and it seems his strength just gives out at the end after the younger cats opened some fresh wounds on his back.
In the end, almost not animal can stand up to the attack from two healthy, full-grown lions and the older male just seems to lay down in defeat. We cannot imagine he lasted long after this fight considering how severe some of his wounds appeared.
As hard as it is to watch, this is the reality of life as a lion. Most male lions who survive to this age probably suffer similar fates. This is not exactly how the Disney movies portray things as happening in the animal kingdom is it?