The 15ft reptile was carrying the head of a zebra in its jaws through the waters of Kruger National Park, South Africa, when it was spotted by a hippo relaxing with its calf.
Angered by its presence, the furious mother hippo pounced on the crocodile – and tried to bite it, its teeth clenching just inches away from the reptile’s head.
Wildlife photographer Renata Ewald captured the moment a protective hippo lunged at a 15ft crocodile carrying the carcass of a zebra
The ‘furious’ hippo clamped its teeth down, missing the crocodile’s head by inches – when the reptile wandered too close to it and its baby
The crocodile was snapped walking through the Kruger National Park in South Africa with the head of a dead zebra in its jaws
After it escaped the attack by the hippo, the crocodile dived under the water and retreated back to the other crocs – who stole his lunch
Wildlife photographer Renata Ewald was watching the crocodile with its prize catch, when she saw the incredible scene unravel.
The 50-year-old from Nelspruit in northeastern South Africa, said: ‘I heard from people on my way to Lower Sabie that a zebra was caught by a huge crocodile at Sunset Dam, so I decided to stop there in the hopes of still seeing something of it.
‘At first it looked that it was all over and done.
‘I spotted the one hippopotamus on the very far left of the dam and then saw a tiny hippo baby next to her in the water.
‘I then spotted a huge crocodile with a part of the zebra kill. I would say this crocodile was approximately 15ft long and very intimidating through your lens.’
The mother hippo had been relaxing in the waters of the National Park when the predator crocodile stumbled across its path
The mammoth reptile, measuring 15ft long, was carrying its earlier prey as it unwittingly moved in the direction of the hippo and her baby
The protective hippo eyed the crocodile semi-submerged under the water, and decided to pounce before it attacked her and her young
Photographer Renata said she was ‘totally amazed’ at how fast the hippo moved through the water to try and attack the crocodile
Protective hippo mothers keep their calves away from boisterous family groups, to ensure they are not injured by other members of the pack..
Renata, who took the photos in April, added: ‘The unsuspecting crocodile moved in the direction of the hippo mother and her baby.
‘I do not know if he was trying to avoid other crocs from taking it from him underneath the water or what.
‘Suddenly the large hippo lunged towards the crocodile. I was totally amazed to see how fast the hippo mom moved through the water.
Protective hippo mothers keep their young away from boisterous family group, to ensure they are not injured by other pack members
Despite refusing to let go of the zebra during its tussle with the hippo, the other crocodiles stole it when it returned to the dam
‘I thought she was going to bite the crocodile into two pieces. She was one furious hippo mom.
‘With quick reflexes, the desperate crocodile immediately turned around, refusing to let go of the zebra carcass even if it cost him his life. The hippo’s bite fell just centimeters short of the crocodile’s head.’
After its brush with death the crocodile dived under the water with its kill still clamped in its jaws.
Renata said: ‘Despite attempting to keep his meal to himself, after the close call with the hippo the crocodile was forced to retreat back to the other crocs in the dam, who quickly jumped at the opportunity to steal his meal.’