Back off, buddy! That’s no welcoming smile, but a hippopotamus leaving absolutely no doubt that an African elephant is an unwanted visitor to its home turf.

Elephant vs. Hippo on the island in the middle of the Chobe River

Elephant vs. Hippo on the island in the middle of the Chobe River

“There is an island on the middle of the Chobe River to which this elephant had crossed. The hippo was not happy about it and was apparently defending its territory,” said photographer Nicole Cambre, a 43-year-old lawyer from Brussels who captured this scene while visiting Botswana in August.

Cambre watched, and photographed, the partially submerged hippopotamus swim toward the elephant as the latter stood impassively near the shoreline. When the hippo emerged onto the island, it showed off massive teeth and jaws in a bellicose display meant to intimidate the trespassing pachyderm. (Related: “‘Unusual’ Pictures: Lions vs. Hippo.”)

Face to face with the largest land animal on Earth, which had lowered its head for possible battle, the hippo showed no signs of backing down—but it eventually reconsidered when reinforcements arrived, Cambre reported. “When more elephants crossed the river to the island, the hippo backed off and went back into the river.” (Related: “Rare Pictures: Crocodile Attacks Elephant.”)

And while the hippo didn’t pose a lethal threat to the giant elephant, the big mammals can back up such belligerence with most other species—including humans. In fact, hippos may be the most dangerous animal to encounter in all of Africa—unless you’re the size of a bull elephant.

Fast facts: Hippopotamus
“Hippopotamus” Ancient Greek for “River Horse”
Body Length 3.3 to 5.2 m
Tail Length About 56 cm
Height  1.5 m
Average Weight Adult males between 1500 and 1800 kgs
Galloping speed Up to 30km/h
Canine and Incisor Length Canines reach up to 50 cm, Incisor up to 40 cm
Thickness of skin 15 cm



Date: 2 October 2013