Oops, they weren't logs after all: The moment a crocodile was killed after taking a foolish shortcut across a herd of hippos
By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 3:52 PM on 19th November 2009
Their bone-crushing jaws, 24 razor-sharp teeth and armour-plated skin are enough to ensure most animals keep their distance.
But, as our incredible pictures show, even crocodiles are no match for a herd of angry hippos.
This young reptilian predator paid the price for swimming too close to a mother and her calves while they bathed.
As 50 hippos gathered into a defensive circle around them, the crocodile panicked and raced over their backs in a bid to escape.Enlarge
Bold move: The crocodile races across the backs of the hippos in a bid to escape after trying to snare a mother and her calves
Making a splash: The crocodile writhes and wriggles but cannot escape the clutches of his angry opponents
It was the last mistake he ever made. The beast's defences were no match for the maze of angry mammals, who proved their bite is every bit as lethal as his.
The spectacularly rare battle of the beasts was captured by Czech wildlife photographer Vaclav Silha.
He had set up his camera on the banks of the River Mara in the Serengeti national park, Tanzania, when the unbelievable scene unfolded before him.
But the 45-year-old got more than he bargained for when a colossal fight broke out between the group and a sneaky crocodile he had spotted earlier.
‘Mutual respect between these animals means fights occur very rarely,’ he said.
‘One of the only reasons you might see a conflict is if the hippos have young and they think the little ones are under threat. That’s exactly what happened here.Enlarge
In the jaws of death: The crocodile is defeated by a maze of angry hippos after trying to kill one of their young
Make it snappy: The raging hippos take revenge by biting back while feeding at the River Mara in Tanzania
‘The incautious croc got too close to a female who had calves and the whole group gathered into a defensive circle around them. It was a strong message for the crook to clear off.
‘I have absolutely no idea why but the crocodile suddenly raced across the backs of the hippos. I think it might have panicked and thought it was a possible escape route. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
‘It was the worst choice the reptile could ever have made and it was definitely its last.
‘The island of hippos suddenly erupted with teeth and all I could see was the crocodile being repeatedly crushed in their huge mouths.’
Described as one of the most aggressive creatures in the animal kingdom, an adult hippo can apply several tons of pressure in a single bite.
‘Even the toughest crocodile could not have withstood being repeatedly bitten like that,’ said Mr Silha, from Prague.
‘There was no way for him to escape. I few seconds later his lifeless body slipped below the water and I didn’t see him again.’
One of these pictures was originally published in the November issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine.Enlarge
Finish him, boys: The crocodile writhes in its final movements before being finished off by his mammal opponents
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I give the hippos credit for working as a unit to protect one mother and her calves. How many humans will sit in their homes and listen to their neighbor and her children get beaten by 'daddy' and just turn the TV up louder. Where is your instinct to protect the ones that can't protect themselves. As for the croc's panic, it doesn't get to count. It looked aggressive, he was there for an aggressive reason, therefore, he died. Obviously he was not sharp enough to continue passing on his genes when it came to the evolutionary ladder... and natural selection.
I second the hungry hippos game. I play pink!
- April AB Bryant, Britton SD USA, 20/11/2009 00:24
"Finish him, boys" ???
What a phrase.. speechless.. When will we, the great humans, learn compassion? Maybe then we might have a chance for surviving as species.
- Mariya Williamson, Sofia, Bulgaria, 19/11/2009 22:25
What a croc!
- Rollo Tomasi, Bangkok, Thailand, 19/11/2009 17:14
Chantel,animals that live in water are known as FISH! F I S H. And most crocs are herbivorous bottom-feeders.
- alibongo, dorset uk, 1
There are many water dwelling animals who live in water - Frogs, water snakes, whales, dolphine, turtles etc. And i can assure you that they along with crocodiles are NOT fish. Fish are able to breathe underwater through gills, non of the above can, they must return to the surface to breathe.
I suggest you go on the BBC iPlayer and watch David Attenboroughs 'Life' series, particularly the reptiles and Amphibians episode. You will see that crocodiles are certainly not fish, and certainly not vegitarians.
Animal classifications are not based on where they live, but mostly on their skin (ie scales, hair/fur) whether they are hot or cold blooded, how they reproduce. All this is learnt in primary school, through FARM B (Fish, Amphibians, Reptimes, Mammals and Birds).
- Zara, UK, 19/11/2009 12:37
Oh, I guess the defenders of animal rights (the ones who condemned the Russian circus for weird bear performances) must have some kind of cognitive dissonance here. It's apparent the croc's rights were violated. On the other hand, the violators are other animals. Whom should we blame?
- Eugene, Kiev, Ukraine, 19/11/2009 09:03
Christina-Miami said: "...I feel even sadder when a sadistic human being kills an animal. This is just instinctual behavior."
Would you instinctually kill another animal for trying to eat your baby? When in history did the human animal evolve beyond nature to the point that he must now be "locked" away from nature? If all living things evolved from the same original life form, then explain the logic behind the idea that the human animal must not kill other animals, but other animals can and its ok.
Mankind is not seperate from nature - its impossible. He evolved from it and is part of it - not separate from it. You are denying nature - in the name of nature. Just because you can't see the logic, does not make it un-natural for the human animal to kill other animals. Such ideology puts the human animal in a cage, while all the other life forms run free. That is sad and saddisstic. It's unnatural. Isn't the green movement idea meant to embrace nature?
- Harlan Colt, Tammarack, Idaho, 19/11/2009 08:57
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Resumo: parece que o paparon. Cousas da vida, que diría Castelao.