They are two giants of the animal kingdom, but that did not stop this male elephant and black rhino from clashing dramatically in a fearsome fight at a park in Africa.
Amateur photographer Louis Kok and his wife Marthie captured these extraordinary photographs of the large elephant attacking the female rhino – flipping it into its back and leaving it with its legs in the air.
The couple from Pretoria, South Africa, were photographing a rhino cow and her calf when the testosterone-fuelled, one-tusked elephant approached.
Tossed and turned: The large male elephant charges at the female rhino and flips it onto its side
Relentless: The testosterone-fuelled beast lays into the mother rhino, who was protecting her calf
African assault: The one-tusked elephant attacks the rhino with its truck as it lies injured in the dust
Protective mother: The rhino was attacked while trying to protect her calf from the rampaging elephant
The pair were stunned to watch the peaceful scene transform into a brutal battle as the bull elephant charged at the protective rhino mother.
Mr Kok said: ‘Male elephants on musth, fuelled by exorbitant levels of testosterone, are extremely dangerous, and will attack anything which stands in their path.’
Musth is a condition during which bull elephants experience a huge rise in reproductive hormones – testosterone levels can reach up to 60 times higher than normal – and this makes them extremely aggressive.
Stunned: Amateur photographer Louis Kok and his wife Marthie did not expect the fight to break out
Immobilised: The helpless rhino is left prostrate, lying on its back after the elephant’s brutal attack
Cowering: The rhino calf watches on, hiding in the shrubs as the elephant attacks its mother
Baby blues: The calf emerges in search of its mother as the elephant peers on it the background
‘The elephant immediately toppled the rhino which landed helplessly on its back with its legs in the air,’ Mr Kok continued.
‘The elephant kept rolling the defenceless rhino around in the dust, while crushing it repeatedly under its enormous weight – in a traumatising display of speed, agility and brutal power.’
After the fight the rhino’s calf rushed to its injured mother’s side.
‘The calf remained in the vicinity for some time, circling her mother and attempting repeatedly to help her up,’ Mr Kok said.
I love you mum! The baby rhino rushes to its mother’s side once the scene is safe and the elephant has gone
Caring child: The calf tends to its mother, which lies on the ground, groaning in pain from her injuries
Heartbreaking: The mother managed to get up after around two hours, but died days later from her injuries