Elephant fury for this mother hippo

Written by: Rian van Schalkwyk of The Wild Side Photography

I recently visited the waterhole at Erindi Private Game Park in Namibia. I had the opportunity of a lifetime witnessing an elephant bull attacking a fully grown hippo with her calf.

The hippos were being fed grass by the park staff, I assume due to the present drought in Namibia. The bloat of hippos were happily grazing on the fodder when an old elephant bull came charging towards them and also started grazing. A mother hippo and her calf ventured too close to the grumpy bull and he attacked the mother, flipping her over with his trunk. She fell on her back with a massive thump and rolled once before getting back to her feet and retreating into the water. The elephant stood there for a few seconds taken back at what he had done, it almost seemed like he felt bad. He soon continued to mock charge the rest of the hippos, causing havoc. Soon the hippos showed aggressive behavior towards each other. After grazing, the elephant went to the waterhole making the crocodiles scatter. The mother only sustained a minor scratch but obviously a bruised ego.

hippo-and-elephant hippo-verse-elephant hippo-and-elephant-fight

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  • WOW! Grumpy old man! Must’ve been quite something to see this happening

  • Kristin

    Hope he does the same to a poacher one day but uses his tusks more.

    • sk

      Unfortunately the damn species H. sapiens invented something called firearms. Ever since that fateful day, it has been running amok all over the world, killing itself and all within sight with its new-found toy.

      • Jordan Ebacher

        if animals evolved to form ways to protect themselves and kill other animals for food (powerful jaws and big canine teeth), H. Sapiens can do the same by developing tools (aka firearms)

  • Eva Seifert

    Everyone has a bad day now and again!

  • Gloria Bobbie Goethals

    Poor momma, glad she’s ok! Never thought I’d see a hippo and think, “Looks like a tiny ragdoll!!!” He’s a wee bit of a jerk… Hopefully he can take his anger out in a more constructive way, like someone else said, on a poacher, or something!

  • Leo

    Hippo tipping in nature. lol
    What a moment to be there…….

  • Wojtek Voitaco P

    Someone had a bad day?

  • prettyparrot

    wow that’s amazing behavior

  • Joanne Anderson

    I believe hippo’s are among the most aggressive she must have had a huge shock poor thing.

  • Dan

    That’s the first time I’ve seen the underside of a hippo.

    Looks really strange.

    • Nick Wiggill

      That’s because this whole thing is ‘shopped. Nice one for actually noticing that these
      pictures don’t look right.

      • james

        why do you say this is ‘shopped’? i have seen elephant chase hippo before – but not turn them over, yet i believe this entirely possible.

        • Christine De Beer

          Like you said, they have never been to africa

      • HexCam

        I agree with James, why do you say ‘shopped’? It goes without saying that any photographer will photoshop their photographs for publication to improve contrast, sharpness etc. but as far as I can see there is nothing else ‘shopped’ about these images. I don’t think Dan was commenting on it being strange as in unreal… just strange as in strange to see the underside of a hippo!

      • Ikhuku

        It must be really weird when the first thing you think when you see an interesting pic is: ‘I don’t believe it, it’s fake’. Cynicism gone wrong. Must rob you of a lot of the pleasure you should be getting out of unusual pictures.

        • Nick Wiggill

          Not really, Ikhuku. As a 3D designer / developer, I spend a lot of time looking through all kinds of images, and take enormous pleasure from them. I’m also a dab hand at photo-editing and texture design. The problem here is not that the photos have been edited (and I will not go into the details, because it simply won’t make sense to those who don’t work in graphics and lighting algorithms), the problem is that they have created an entire story around this and fooled people into believing it through “convincing” photographs. *That* is what I don’t like.

          Not everybody who disbelieves a particular thing, is a lifetime cynic, my friend. I am rarely the skeptic. And if this were not a field I happen to know a lot about, I wouldn’t have bothered to add my two cents.

          • SeanB

            I happen to have seen the original shots and the story is absolutely true, so your cynicism is wrong and as a designer you obviously have no idea what you are looking for!!!

          • Nick Wiggill

            …And of course I will believe you, a complete stranger who is insulting, defensive and ends sentences with triple exclamation marks. Go back to sleep, fella.

          • Daniel
          • John Kinnaird

            So sad to be bitter cynic, I have seen hundreds of amazing wildlife shots and you could never photoshop pics like this and make them seen real. Many times the real ones look completely weird, shame

          • Nick Wiggill

            Funny, because by the way you speak, you sound like the one who is almost in tears! Light up, fella! It’s just one fake picture!

          • Elyse Morana

            u suck-shut up and enjoy it or get the f out ..loser

          • Ikhuku

            Now that’s a really useful, intelligent, mature comment. Congratulations.

          • Bonita

            I was lucky enough to be there as well when this encounter took place. Nick, what you are seeing here is for real.

          • Marc

            And this comes from somebody that most properly has never been to Africa, and even less Namibia. The closest that you have come to a Hippo is most properly on TV….!

            Nick…..Nick…Hello, time to wake up! This is africa….and not some stupid 3D design/development studio…..!

            If you were there, you would have sh….. in your pants!

          • Christine De Beer

            Amen to that!!!!!

          • Edu Osieta

            As a 3D designer/developer you should get out a bit more. If you did,
            you would know that wildlife doesn’t pose for the camera. That the
            whole, UNEXPECTED, unchoreographed event was caught without perfect lighting and resolution is no reason for you to get all patronising and “no one will understand the clever things I would otherwise explain.” uppity.

            Don’t just threaten to dazzle with your expertise, explain the fake photo conspiracy theory.

          • ManHorse

            What do you have to gain by planting ridiculous lies like this? You will not go into details because it would not make sense to some people here? Pathetic.

      • elaine

        The behaviour is also weird, never heard the like.

    • carrotts

      I have seen the underside of a hippo loads of times, but now I try not to look at the wife when she is undressing

      • Edu Osieta

        Word to the wise – leave the wildlife in the wild, don’t marry it!

  • oldergeneration

    Never ceases to amaze me the power of the elephant! Great shots, poor Mom, glad she is OK

  • Elaine Hryciuk

    Love the pictures with their babies there was an program on Manitoba television just last week maybe they can stop the poaching !!!

  • Tim

    Call me old and wrinkly will ya? I’ll give ya some old and wrinkly all right!
    How do ya like me now? That was just with my nose… so watch out.

  • Julius Czar

    Its called: surprise attack!

  • Elizabeth Baptista

    Yeah poachers need to be treated like this

  • Great post and what a sighting! I have the deepest respect for elephants, but was recently charged when 4 of them came out of some thick bush while on foot. See this photo my wife took:

    • DestinyDear

      That’s a fantastic pic! Your wife is brave- I probably wouldn’t have stayed in place long enough to snap that photo!

  • Jivko Stoyanov

    I will pay first class ticket for the elephant if he wants to go to the Bulgarian Parliament.

  • Marthie van der Walt

    Shame she is so much smaller, hope he is not angry anymore!!

  • Poor hippo!

  • JAY


  • karen hippo

    I work with hippos having studied them for over 20 years. I have always noted that they are afraid of elephants, now I can clearly see why!

  • Mrs Bunny

    a dog did that to me one time. tuck and roll!! what’s the big deal?!

  • Miguel Angel Enríquez
  • Guest

    Am I the only one who can clearly see that this is photoshopped? Dammit, you people are gullible. And it’s depressing that a site like this would publish fake trash.

    • Corrie

      NICKY You clearly do not live in South Africa. This nature, not “shopping”

      • Guest

        CORRY-POOPS As I was born South African into one of our country’s old families (search online for the 1820 settlers’ ships logs, Portsmouth / Port Elizabeth for my surname), I hardly have to defend my heritage or experience to you.

  • Brillant pictures!

  • chikondi

    poor hipo, at least the elephant spared the kid.

  • Erin

    Wow! That’s crazy. What an experience.

  • Ad

    Elephants have been attacking rhinos in SA. The scientific explanation for this has been linked to ‘must’ and the fact that older dominant males that would keep younger, more erratic, bulls in check have been removed from the population.

  • addilein

    poor girl !! he should turn his fury on the 2 legged enemies..!

  • Orollo

    Looks like baby hippo is smarter than momma hippo.

  • Rian van Schalkwyk

    I just want to thank everybody for all the positive comments. Here are few people that think these photos are photoshopped. I have been a wildlife photographer for three years now and this has been the single most spectacular moment I have ever witnessed in the wild. It makes me sad that some can say that. I don’t even have Photoshop. I use Lightroom for the normal enhancements but nothing else was done to these photos.

    • Polly

      Was the mother Hippo OK Rian ??? The pics are amazing but I feel sad for the Hippo.

      • Polly

        Im Sorry Rian I just properly read what you wrote. I was so fascinated by the photos I didn’t read the story. She just had a few scratches. Awesome pics mate. Well done.

        • Rian van Schalkwyk

          Thank you Polly.

    • Juli

      I am a photographer and use photoshop and other apps for minimal enhancement. These photos are not fake for heaven’s sakes. It’s easy to spot when it is is. I think Nick is a little jealous. I moderate an elephant page on FB and posted one of these. Awesome captures!

  • Alet Koen

    “Boelie” – kan hy nie sien die seekoei is kleiner nie?

  • Rob

    If it is shopped, then its very well done. I cant see it!
    Interesting photos

  • whirlwindwoo

    So glad the hippo was not injure badly 2 animals not too mess about with.

  • Renschia Lambrechts

    Great story and great photos. I have read most of the comments as well. I have looked closely at the photos too. In my opinion these were definitely not photoshopped! The shadows are in the right place and it would really be very tricky to reproduce the dust clouds in the last photo. We live in South Africa and have seen many strange and wonderful things in the wild. People should realise that – Africa is not a petting zoo. Keep taking and posting photos, Rian. Congrats on a job well done!!

  • J

    That is what’s wrong with humans—there is always some idiot like Nick who think they know everything. Who made you God? And my, my those 3 exclamation points really hurt don’t they? So, it’s fine for you to be insulting and defensive apparently —-guilty of your own accusations? Have you been anywhere outside of your own office?

  • Jenetta

    I know nothing about photoshop, but I must say these are brilliant photos.
    Why don’t we all just enjoy God’s creation, instead of arguing and trying to know better than the next person. Encourage don’t discourage. These photographers are doing a very good job and then sharing it with us. Be happy and thankful.

  • Flavio

    Elephants are very touchy.

  • Tatyana

    What a great shot – you can see the emotion and fear in this photo

  • Fanie Du Preez

    These elephant bulls were recently moved from Kaudum where they roamed freely over 1000’s of square km’s to Erindi, a 80,000ha Ranch in central Namibia. They are very frustrated and firstly broke out of their holding pens, with electricity in the fences) and already broke out of the ranch and had to be tranquilized and be brought back by trucks. Probably this Bull took out his frustration on the poor mama hippo.

  • lara

    this was an amazing photo. no wonder the crocs were scared

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