Hungry Hungry Hippos

Well…I suppose that’s somewhat of an exaggeration given the hippo in question wasn’t actually hungry, but you’ll see where I’m going with this very soon. There was an article in on The Times website today concerning a very rare clash in nature between a crocodile and a hippo on the Nile river bank in Serengheti National Park, Tanzania. The fight was particuarly one-sided. And judging by the title I’ve given this post I think you can tell which way the fight went.

Czech Wildlife photographer Vaclav Silha set his camera up not expecting to see a scene quite like this, as he told The Times “Mutual respect between these animals means fights occur very rarely.” He went on to explain that when hippos feel their young are threatened they will fight. And that’s exactly what happened to poor old Mr Crocodile. Seems he got to close to a mother, resulting in the whole group forming a whole circle around it in defense.

What’s even more incredible is the crocodile’s chosen escape route – across the backs of the hippos! Mr Silha told the Times that this “was the worst choice the reptile could ever have made and it was definitely its last.” Again, all photographed, one of the hippos proceeded to catch the crocodile in its mouth and crush it to death. Now crocodiles have some pretty hard skin, but even that isn’t a match for the powerful jaws of a hippopotumus.

I can’t honestly say I’m a huge nature lover, but things like this fascinate me. I went to San Diego zoo over the summer and saw both these animals (not in the same area obviously!) and to think hippos are capable of this is quite extraordinary.  Looking at a hippo up close it seems that, while admittedly EXTREMELY big, they are among the most docile of animals. However the crocodiles at the same zoo were the most sinister looking things I’ve ever seen. However a little bit of research online has shown me that in fact hippos are one of the most aggresive and dangerous animals in Africa and frequently attack humans and boats. How wrong was I? Still, these photographs are rare documentation of hippos fighting crocodiles, and given the croc’s amusing but futile escape plan make them even more special.

So next time you’re at the zoo and looking at hippos, just remember, they aren’t as docile as you may think.

The article and the pictures documenting this incredible event can be found here.

Published in: on November 16, 2009 at 8:29 pm  Comments (2)  
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