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Hippo and Elephant Confrontation

The picture sequence below was taken from the hide at Masuma Dam in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, where some dams and pans are artificially fed by pumping underground water into them.

At these dams the water becomes very muddy, mainly from elephants wallowing, so there is competition for fresh water.

At Masuma the elephants were monopolizing the furrow that feeds fresh water into the dam when an adult hippo decided to leave the safety of the dam in search of fresh water to drink. At this point an adoloscent elephant, full of youthful bravado, approached the drinking hippo.

Young elephant challenges adult hippo Cheeky young elephant, its ears flapping and trunk outstretched, confronts adult hippo

Hippo glares at young elephant The hippo, unfazed, merely glares at the young intruder ...

Young elephant retreats sheepishly Who, realizing he's more than met his match, moves away sheepishly

Adult elephant opts to intervene This seems to trigger a hostile reaction in one of the adult elephants, which decides to intervene

Hippo moves to its left as elephant approaches The hippo, realizing the heavy artillery is approaching, takes evasive action ...

Hippo evading elephant And moves away as the elephant gets nearer

Hippo moves to its right to evade elephant Its route blocked by another (out-of-view) elephant, the hippo is forced to swing to its right, away from the water

Hippo makes for gap between elephants Trapped between the irritated elephant and another on its left, the hippo is left a small gap ...

Hippo heads for safety of water Which it quickly seizes as it heads for safety of the water

Hippo plunges into water Before plunging into the muddy dam

Hippo makes a splash as it plunges into water And splashing off, out of harm's way

Hippo heads off, away from elephants The satisfied elephant, having achieved its goal, watches as the hippo moves further into the dam, away from the fresh water

One may well ask whether the hippo was in any real danger from the elephants. Probably not, as hippos and elephants usually co-existent in relative harmony around water. Both have few enemies other than man, so not much scares them.

It's unlikely that a hippo, in spite of its size and formidable jaws and teeth, could do much harm to an adult elephant on land, while an elephant could conceivably gore a hippo with its tusks, as they've certainly been known to do to adult rhinos.

Camera Gear Used: Canon EOS 400D digital body; Lens: Canon 70-300 IS Zoom; Focal Length: Various; Shutter speed: 1/800; Aperture: f/5.6; ISO: 200.

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