Watch Extremely Rare Fight Between Mother Mountain Lions Defending Cubs

An extremely rare fight broke out between two mother mountain lions defending their cubs, footage shows.

Mountain lions—also known as pumas or cougars—inhabit mountainous, rocky terrain throughout the Americas.

The footage was taken as part of David Attenborough-narrated Dynasties II, a BBC documentary that follows four different animals in their habitats on a quest for survival. Episode 1 of the documentary set in Patagonia, South America, follows a mountain lion mom called Rupestre as she struggles to raise her four cubs.

The footage begins by showing Rupestre's cubs fleeing for safety.

Rupestre is then taken off guard as another female, Blinka, challenges her for territory by a lake, where the former is raising her cubs.

According to Attenborough, Blinka was brought up in this territory and she now wants to claim it in order to raise her own cubs. The two females viciously growl and snarl as they take swipes at one another.

"Fights as violent as this between females are rare," Attenborough says.

The vicious fight continues, and Rupestre's rival refuses to back down, having her own cubs to defend and protect. The fight suddenly stops as an exhausted Rupestre realizes she has lost.

Mountain lion
A stock photo shows a mountain lion. "Dynasties II" episode 1 follows a mother mountain lion protecting her cubs. SandmanXX/Getty Images

"She is forced to move her family... It's just not worth risking another fight with Blinka," Attenborough says, as the camera shows blood dripping down Rupestre's face.

It was discovered in 2017 that mountain lions are more socially complex than scientists originally thought. Once considered solitary predators that avoid others of their kind, the mountain lion has more recently been observed in battles for territory and adhering to complex social family structures.

Dynasties series producer Simon Blakeney told Newsweek that even though mountain lions are big, powerful animals, it was clear to him while filming that they are incredibly vulnerable.

"If it's a puma trying to bring up her young, with all the natural threats, or whether that is just dealing with the weather or other pumas... All these animals have a tough time and I'd hope Dynasties is a good way of showing the struggles they go through," he said.

Blakeney said that the Dynasties brand is all about understanding the complexities of family life, and how animals interact with others.

"Because we spend so much time with single groups of animals, you get to see those interactions with related individuals or strangers and how they deal with the challenges," he said. "The wonderful thing about Dynasties is that you see things you never predict. There are moments you don't expect."

Lydia Baines was a producer for episode 2 of Dynasties II, which follows a family of elephants in Kenya.

Baines told Newsweek that on Dynasties II, the animals are allowed to tell their story to the filmmakers, instead of the filmmakers deciding what stories to tell.

"It can be scary. Instead of saying, we are going to film this part of your life, you're saying we're going to watch you do your life, which is a really different way of filmmaking," she said.

"We are able to show unexpected moments with these animals. It's about understanding how families work and understanding how small things can have such an impact," Blakeney said. "Big moments, when an animal fights, but also those little moments. Even if it's the small moment a mother elephant guides her baby elephant's trunk. Moments like like that become the important moments in these films because you understand the relationship between a mother and a daughter."

Dynasties II episode 1, "Puma," and episode 2, "Elephant," have already aired, and are available to watch on BBC Iplayer.