A pair of American wildlife photographers had a terrifying encounter while filming hippos in Botswana recently. Bill and Linda Klipp were on a month-long photographic safari in the Okavango Delta when the incident happened.
"We stopped at a small natural water hole to photograph a lone Hippo doing what Hippos do, lounging in the water, snorting, staring at us, twitching his ears, rolling over, rising up and down with an occasional yawn and short rushes through the water," explained Bill, who shared a video of the close call on his YouTube channel. "We speculated that he was kicked out of the larger nearby pod due to bad behavior, and boy was that right."
The couple and their guide thought that the animal might make a bluff charge in an attempt to drive them back, but weren't expecting it to clamp its jaws around the front passenger door and prevent them from leaving. The door's wooden frame began to splinter, and the hippo's teeth tore a gash in the bodywork.
"Our guide kept revving the engine while reversing and after the Hippo’s third bite on the door he finally let go and backed off retreating towards the water as we zoomed away in reverse," wrote Bill. "Luckily, only the vehicle was injured and remained operable for our escape."
After spending years working in financial services, Bill and Linda decided to spend their retirement travelling the world, capturing images of wildlife in its natural habitat, and their work has been featured in publications including Advnture's sister magazine Digital Photographer.
Bill says it was exhilarating to witness the power of a hippo first-hand, and the couple are glad to be around to share their experience.
When hippos attack
As National Geographic explains, hippos are well known for their aggressive nature. This, combined with their huge teeth, muscular build and sheer size, makes them one of the most dangerous animals in Africa. Despite their stocky appearance, they can reach speeds of up to 22mph over short distances, and their powerful jaws can open 180 degrees, allowing them to grab onto large prey (or cars) with ease.
It's not known how many people die as a result of hippo attacks each year, but attacks have a reported fatality rate of almost 90%. If you're unlucky enough to find yourself face-to-face with one, former soldier and explorer Levison Wood (who has escaped from a charging hippo himself) advises: "Run as fast as you can, try to get on to some high ground. They’re not good with hills, thankfully."
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.