They say a mother will do anything for her child even if it means putting herself in ʜᴀʀᴍ’s way. These astonishing pictures show the moment a hippo flew into the air after being charged at by an elephant trying to protect her calf. The fully-grown mother was ᴛʜʀᴏᴡɴ several feet up as she tried to stand her ground ᴀɢᴀɪɴsᴛ the ᴀɢɢʀᴇssɪᴠᴇ bull – giving her calf time to scamper to safety.
The scene was captured by ᴡɪʟᴅʟɪꜰᴇ photographer Rian Van Schalkwyk, 40, at the Erindi Private Game Reserve in Windhoek, Namibia. Van Schalkwyk, who works as a GP in Rundu, a small town in the north east of Namibia, on the Angolan border, was spending a long weekend at the reserve with wife Bonnie and a host of other family members.
The spectacular scene unfolded on Sunday after lunch when all of the other guests had gone back to their rooms to sleep. He said that he felt so fortunate to have witnessed that. He said: “I felt incredibly privileged to see this. I’ve been in the bush a long time, but this was the most spectacular scene I’ve ever witnessed, I couldn’t believe it.” From the vantage point of a restaurant viewing deck overlooking a water hole, the photographer and his loved ones got a private view of this incredible animal interaction. Van Schalkwyk said that he was taking pictures of the hippos in the water when the staff arrived and threw some grass out for hippos because they have nothing else to eat because of the prolonged drought. Almost immediately, twenty hippos emerged from the water and began to graze.
In a hurry, a large elephant bull came charging out of the bush in a rush, it was going for the grass as well. The hippos had to be careful not to approach the elephant to make it comfortable for the elephant to happily graze beside them. The elephant was originally happy to graze beside the hippos, but when they started to get closer, it became ᴀɢɪᴛᴀᴛᴇᴅ and began to flap its ears ᴀɴɢʀɪʟʏ. The elephant decided to take immediate action when the mother hippo veered just slightly too close. The hippo was ᴅᴡᴀʀꜰᴇᴅ by the male elephant, the elephant was able to easily flip her with his trunk despite the fact that adult female hippos may weigh upwards of 1.5 tonnes. She ꜰᴇʟʟ to the ground on her back and spun around to face the water. The elephant simply stood there and shook his head thereafter. She landed on her back and rolled 360 degrees down the embankment towards the water.
When he got up after ꜰᴀʟʟɪɴɢ to the ground, the hippo still didn’t leave. It has to stay and protect the small children around. They can be ɪɴᴊᴜʀᴇᴅ by the elephant at any time. Despite the force of the ᴀᴛᴛᴀᴄᴋ, the mother hippo stays behind despite all the ʜᴜʀᴛ. The terrified baby hippo was able to scamper to safety as the brave mother hit the ground. Luckily she suffered only a ɢᴀsʜ to the side of her body – and perhaps a ʙʀᴜɪsᴇᴅ ego.
The hippo turned back toward the lake. The mother stayed in the water for around five minutes before eventually emerging as the calf went off in the direction of the other hippos. The mother and calf were soon reunited, but instead of showing herd members ᴄᴏᴍᴘᴀssɪᴏɴ, they began acting ᴀɢɢʀᴇssɪᴠᴇly toward the mother, forcing her to retreat with her calf and stand away from the others. Van Schalkwyk said: “It was quite emotional to see her go to those lengths, to stand her ground against a much bigger animal.”