Mother elephant protects her baby from hippo attack

The picture sequence below was taken from the hide at Masuma Dam in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, where some dams and pans are artificially fed by pumping underground water into them.

At these dams the water becomes very muddy, mainly from elephants wallowing, so there is competition for fresh water.

At Masuma the elephants were monopolizing the furrow that feeds fresh water into the dam when an adult hippo decided to leave the safety of the dam in search of fresh water to drink. At this point an adoloscent elephant, full of youthful bravado, approached the drinking hippo.

Cheeky young elephant, its ears flapping and trunk outstretched, confronts adult hippo

The hippo, unfazed, merely glares at the young intruder …

This seems to trigger a hostile reaction in one of the adult elephants, which decides to intervene

The hippo, realizing the heavy artillery is approaching, takes evasive action …

And moves away as the elephant gets nearer

Its route blocked by another (out-of-view) elephant, the hippo is forced to swing to its right, away from the water

Trapped between the irritated elephant and another on its left, the hippo is left a small gap …

Which it quickly seizes as it heads for safety of the water

Before plunging into the muddy dam

The satisfied elephant, having achieved its goal, watches as the hippo moves further into the dam, away from the fresh water

One may well ask whether the hippo was in any real danger from the elephants. Probably not, as hippos and elephants usually co-existent in relative harmony around water. Both have few enemies other than man, so not much scares them.

It’s unlikely that a hippo, in spite of its size and formidable jaws and teeth, could do much harm to an adult elephant on land, while an elephant could conceivably gore a hippo with its tusks, as they’ve certainly been known to do to adult rhinos.



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