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Hippo vs. Elephant: Giants Face Off

By Brian Handwerk

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.

hippo and elephant picture

Photograph by Nicole Cambre/Rex Features

“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 ellie, 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.

Comments

  1. Salsassin
    United States
    November 12, 2013, 6:00 pm
  2. Raymond Mkichwe
    Dar es Salaam
    November 3, 2013, 6:02 pm

    Survival of the fittest, jungle law.

  3. Pablo Gonzalez
    Milky Way
    October 20, 2013, 7:17 pm

    Ahhh…I wanted a fight!

  4. some one who likes national geographic
    October 18, 2013, 3:02 am

    where is the video???????????

  5. Gary K. Van Horn
    Shiloh, Illinois
    October 17, 2013, 9:59 pm

    It;s bad news for the hyena if it’s an adult male. Pretty even for female lions and hyenas.

  6. Nathaniel
    Ghana
    October 11, 2013, 5:14 pm

    A lion and hyena wat happens?

  7. mor
    israel
    October 10, 2013, 12:19 pm

    amazing

  8. lil'dee
    barton lexa
    October 9, 2013, 2:00 pm

    the picture about the hippo and the elephant is awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Juan José Ibañez
    Aguascalientes y Ciudad de México
    October 7, 2013, 7:34 pm

    Admirable fotografía. Conozco el mundo por estos audaces señores.

  10. EATRHBOUND
    October 7, 2013, 10:07 am

    I WOULD LIKE TO SEE THAT

  11. Thomas Blyth
    Brighton
    October 5, 2013, 5:06 am

    Hippo definitely. Hippos rule!

  12. josé josafá dos santos
    Conselheiro lafaiete, MG Brazil.
    October 3, 2013, 10:05 pm

    I like national geographic

  13. maria guadalupe dominguez nieto
    puebla puebla mexico
    October 3, 2013, 4:02 pm

    es admirable el encuentro de dos de las especies mas grandes de africa

  14. subhankar
    abu dhabi
    October 3, 2013, 10:52 am

    Very nice wild story. Thanks to Mr Nicole Cambre.

  15. azandh
    india,tamilnadu.kanyakumari,marthandam
    October 3, 2013, 10:39 am

    it is amaizing teritorial fight of hippo……nice photo shot keep it up

  16. Ken Albertsen
    Thailand
    October 3, 2013, 8:02 am

    I love inter-species interaction like this. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Diana
    Nebraska
    October 3, 2013, 7:57 am

    Great story and pictures!! This time Goliath won though….

  18. BRAHMANAND
    MUMBAI
    October 3, 2013, 6:16 am

    Nice photographic interest with daring

  19. Ahmed Essemlalie
    Marrakech morocco
    October 2, 2013, 10:10 pm

    It’s that happen only in animal life or as well with human been

  20. Rubí Cahuich
    México
    October 2, 2013, 9:43 pm

    Is really amazing, the animal kingdom is wild and the same time is beautiful. The hippo is small and the elephant is big, but the intelligent of this animal is very big.

  21. Bells
    Australia
    October 2, 2013, 9:12 pm

    I think the hippo would come of second best. Hippos sure can open their mouths wide.

  22. AZUCENA LARREA
    RIOBAMBA - ECUADOR
    October 2, 2013, 9:02 pm

    LOS ELEFANTES SON LOS ANIMALES QUE MAS ME GUSTA, SALUDOS

  23. stacy girl
    Earth
    October 2, 2013, 8:55 pm

    move over buddy……lol