An unlucky wildebeest found itself in the clutches of a crocodile when a most remarkable “hero” seemingly appeared out of nowhere.
While on safari in northeastern South Africa, a retired couple managed to capture amazing footage of a crocodile grabbing a wildebeest’s leg with no intention of letting go.
The video showed the poor wildebeest struggling to pull its leg from the crocodile’s jaws for several minutes. The wildebeest began to grow tired, and just as it appeared that the crocodile seemed to be winning the fight, two unexpected hippopotamus heroes seemingly came out of nowhere and confronted the crocodile, forcing it to free the wildebeest.
Retiree Mervyn Van Wyk and his wife Tokkie were visiting Kruger National Park when they spotted the altercation and Tokkie began recording the scene.
The video was uploaded to Kruger Park’s YouTube account on Tuesday, but it did not specify when the original video was shot. It has been viewed over a million times in four days.
While it looks like the hippos are rescuing the wildebeest, the animal’s instincts were behind the drama that unfolded that day.
University of California Santa Barbara professor Douglas McCauley told National Geographic the hippos were likely acting to protect their territory.
Hippos are too big to be prey for crocodiles, but that doesn’t mean the animals like each other. McCauley said that if crocodiles get too close to hippos, say within a few feet, hippos will often snap or charge them.
However, McCauley believed that the wildebeest’s splashing drew the hippos’ attention to protecting their turf.
“My best guess is that the hippos are acting very aggressive toward anything that tries to enter the water. They’ll come charging in and try to drive you away,” he explained.
So while it appeared that the hippos were “rescuing” the wildebeest, they were more likely they were aggressively staking out their territory.
Regardless of why the hippos charged the crocodile, this video is a stunning example of nature taking its course.
Some days you’re the crocodile, other days you’re the wildebeest.
And some days, you’re the hippo.
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