Hippo | February 20, 2024 11:38 AM | Alisa

A Baby Hippo Struggles to Survive Despite Attacks

A baby hippo fights for survival against a big male while the rest of the pod watches on. Witness the emotional encounter captured through a camera lens. This baby hippo was forced to fight for its life as it was relentlessly attacked by a big male, all while the rest of the pod could only watch on.

Sharon Klopper and Michelle Vagionakis witnessed this entire scene unfold from a bird hide in Pilanesberg Game Reserve. Their friend Jennie was also with them, and the three of them.

“We had been to the scene just the day before this shocking attack happened, and already then noticed something strange. There was a mother hippo with a very young calf amidst the pod of hippos. For safety, Mother hippos usually keep their babies away from the main pod, especially when they’re that tiny.”

“We thought this was really interesting behavior, so, the next day we decided to investigate and returned to the hide at Ruighoek Dam. This time there were other visitors at the hide. They all looked concerned and told us that they weren’t sure what was happening, but it seemed like one of the hippos was acting aggressively towards the little one!”

“We quickly moved closer to see for ourselves, and out of nowhere, a male hippo grabbed the baby in his mouth. The big hippo then dunked it underwater, and flung it around, eventually throwing it onto another hippo’s back! Despite the constant onslaught, the baby hippo kept trying to escape, returning to its mom’s side every time. It was like it knew where it belonged. Its mother was trying its best to protect it, but this hippo was just too big, and nothing was stopping him.”

“That’s when the other hippos seemed to notice the commotion. They formed a half-moon shape around the scene, almost as if they were watching it all unfold. The mother hippo became completely panicked, and out of frustration and confusion, she started fighting with any hippo that came near her.”

“For what felt like hours, we watched in awe as the baby hippo struggled in the water, fighting for its life. Then, suddenly, everything calmed down. The baby managed to get out of the water, but it was badly injured. Its belly was open, and there were wounds all over its body. Walking seemed almost impossible, likely due to its injured back legs.”

“Despite the injuries, the baby hippo tried to walk away. The mom and another female hippo followed, smelling and inspecting the baby’s wounds. The baby found a bush to rest by, and the other female left. The mom then stood over her baby, and something touching happened. She looked like she was crying, letting her saliva fall on the baby’s wounds. She then gave a silent scream, a moment of pure emotion, before gently pushing the baby out of our view and walking away.”

“We don’t know what happened to the baby hippo after that. We assume the mother knew that it was time to say goodbye as her little one was definitely not going to survive much longer. This encounter was deeply emotional and something we will never forget.”

I was able to capture some of this incredible story through my camera lens, while the others filmed it. This experience, shared with Sharon, Shelley, and Lenter, was a powerful reminder of nature’s raw beauty and brutality. It’s a story we will always carry with us.

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