The scene was captured by wildlife photographer Rian van Schalkwyk, 40, at the Erindi Private Game Reserve in Windhoek, Namibia
When the hippo mother in the pictures strayed just that little bit too close the elephant decided to take drastic action.
Although adult female hippos can weigh upwards of 1.5 tonnes the cow was dwarfed by the male elephant - which was able to flip her with his trunk with ease.
'She landed on her back and rolled 360 degrees down the embankment towards the water,' Rian said.
'Afterwards, the elephant just stood there and shook his head. The hippo retreated into the water.
'The calf ran away towards the other hippos and the mother stayed in the water for about five minutes before eventually coming out.
'It was incredible. It happened so quickly, elephants are incredibly fast over short distances.
'I felt very sorry for the mother trying to protect her young. It was quite emotional to see her go to those lengths, to stand her ground against a much bigger animal.
'You could see in her whole demeanor that she was quite taken aback, even the elephant seemed like he was thinking about what he did.'
The mother and the calf were quickly reunited but far from being lavished with sympathy, the herd acted aggressively towards her and she was forced to retreat with her calf and stand apart from the group.
The elephant's mood did not improve much, as he carried out a handful of mock charges on other hippos before venturing into the waterhole to chase away a few sunbathing crocodiles.
The grumpy giant then treated himself to a dust bath before departing, leaving the hippos to finish grazing in peace.
'For me, it was the experience of a lifetime,' Van Schalkwyk said.
'I felt privileged to see animal behaviour like that, but I also felt for the mother. All of us just stood there for a while afterwards not talking, just taking in the scene.'