By Aimee Braniff Cree


POWERFUL images of a one-tonne mother hippo successfully defending her calf from a rogue two-tonne male who strayed too close proves that across the animal kingdom – mothers should not be messed with.

One dramatic image captured in Maasai Mara, Kenya shows the sixteen foot long male and female hippo mouth-to-mouth as the baby swims around seemingly uninterested in all the action caused by its presence.

Another image shows the baby hippo laying its head on the mothers forehead in the water as if they are comforting her and showing they are alright.

Hippos are extremely powerful animals and are in fact the world’s deadliest mammal killing around 500 people per year across Africa.

The two giants come to blows with their massive jaws outstretched, the baby is not phased.

The clash captured is between a male and a female, hippos grow anywhere between ten and 16 feet long and are around five feet tall at the shoulder.

These images were captured by US wildlife photographer Jami Tarris (65) on her Canon 5D Mark IV.

“I was sitting above the shoreline of a river when the fight broke out.” said Jami.

“A male came too close to the young calf of a female. She was extremely aggressive – as was the male – and they started to display by charging and opening their mouths wide to show ferocity and strength.

“The female exploded into the water while the calf was looking at me as if he was completely disinterested.

The mother opens her massive jaw as the male lashed out, the baby swims away unbothered.

“His mother is the cow on the right side of the frame and what struck me as interesting was that this little calf was either unperturbed or completely nonplussed by all of the dramatic action happening behind him.

“When the calf is looking right at me while both adult hippos are mouth to mouth splashing very dramatically and aggressively. It was a bit frightening.

“These two hippos were so aggressive and dramatic that I actually felt a moment of fear.

“I love catching raw animal behavior in the moment.

“We are all drawn to nature photography for our very own personal reasons.

“Some are drawn for commercial reasons: to make money, others because they enjoy sitting in the peace and quiet of nature waiting for beautiful light, and others who perhaps enjoy the hunt of capturing animal behavior in front of their very eyes.

They stand showing off their mighty teeth to on another while the calf stays near mum but out of harms way.

“For me, it was all of the above at the beginning, but as I spent more time in the field and grew older, it became more about being a champion for innocent and beautiful creatures who needed protection from humans like me.

“This is life in the wild world of hippos. Mothers of most species are very protective, but it is always interesting to see this behavior.”