His final mistake was the one: The moment a crocodile died trying to take a stupid shortcut through a herd of hippos

Their bone-crushing jaws, 24 razor-sharp teeth and armour-plated skin are enough to ensure most animals keep their distance.

But, as our incredible pictures show, even crocodiles are no match for a herd of angry hippos.

This young reptilian predator paid the price for swimming too close to a mother and her calves while they bathed.

As 50 hippos gathered into a defensive circle around them, the crocodile panicked and raced over their backs in a bid to escape.

Bold move: The crocodile races across the backs of the hippos in a bid to escape after trying to snare a mother and her calves

Making a splash: The crocodile writhes and wriggles but cannot escape the clutches of his angry opponents

It was the last mistake he ever made. The beast’s defences were no match for the maze of angry mammals, who proved their bite is every bit as lethal as his.

The spectacularly rare battle of the beasts was captured by Czech wildlife photographer Vaclav Silha.

He had set up his camera on the banks of the River Mara in the Serengeti national park, Tanzania, when the unbelievable scene unfolded before him.

But the 45-year-old got more than he bargained for when a colossal fight broke out between the group and a sneaky crocodile he had spotted earlier.

‘Mutual respect between these animals means fights occur very rarely,’ he said.

‘One of the only reasons you might see a conflict is if the hippos have young and they think the little ones are under threat. That’s exactly what happened here.

In the jaws of death: The crocodile is defeated by a maze of angry hippos after trying to kill one of their young

Make it snappy: The raging hippos take revenge by biting back while feeding at the River Mara in Tanzania

‘The incautious croc got too close to a female who had calves and the whole group gathered into a defensive circle around them. It was a strong message for the crook to clear off.

‘I have absolutely no idea why but the crocodile suddenly raced across the backs of the hippos. I think it might have panicked and thought it was a possible escape route. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

‘It was the worst choice the reptile could ever have made and it was definitely its last.

‘The island of hippos suddenly erupted with teeth and all I could see was the crocodile being repeatedly crushed in their huge mouths.’

Described as one of the most aggressive creatures in the animal kingdom, an adult hippo can apply several tons of pressure in a single bite.

‘Even the toughest crocodile could not have withstood being repeatedly bitten like that,’ said Mr Silha, from Prague.

‘There was no way for him to escape. I few seconds later his lifeless body slipped below the water and I didn’t see him again.’

One of these pictures was originally published in the November issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine.

Finish him, boys: The crocodile writhes in its final movements before being finished off by his mammal opponents

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