Watch This Elephant Protect Its Family By Hurling a Tree Limb at a Charging Rhino

Written by Kirstin Harrington
Updated: August 30, 2023
© Stu Porter/
Share this post on:


Key Points:

  • Rhinos are territorial and claim their territory with cleverly arranged dung piles. 
  • Young bull elephants have been known to kill rhinos – probably over competition for food whenever it is scarce.
  • Elephants use their trunks for breathing, object handling, scratching itchy eyes or ears, as a snorkel when exploring in the water, and, according to this video, for throwing tree limbs at pesky rhinos!

Who needs to pay for a boxing match when we have footage like what you’re about to see? Being immersed in nature is one of the greatest joys of being alive. A group of tourists had the opportunity to witness a once-in-a-lifetime moment when two animals weren’t getting along. 

This video starts with a herd of elephants enjoying a relaxing day in the sun when a nearby rhino is spotted near them. These two animals are not particularly friendly to one another in the wild, similar to how lions and elephants are. 

Young elephants playing, the youngest holding the tail of its sibling
Elephants love to play with each other’s tails!

©Johan W. Elzenga/

8,196 People Couldn't Ace This Quiz

Think You Can?

Elephants, especially adolescent bull elephants, frequently kill rhinos. It can be related to the struggle for food. Rhinos are territorial and just slightly social. On the grassy plains, they remain in groups called herds and claim their territory with cleverly arranged dung piles. 

The males fiercely defend their area with their enormous size and horns. Elephants, on the other hand, are not territorial. They are, however, protective of each other and that’s likely what caused the confrontation seen below. 

A Balancing Act

We start to see the elephant walk toward the rhino with a large log being balanced on its trunk! While that’s impressive, the action is just getting started. The rhino dashes towards the elephant before abruptly stopping, almost as if he’s warning him. 

Rhinos are capable of defending their area, however, they are seldom aggressive unless cornered. Rhinos enjoy foraging in silence and seclusion. However, if they perceive a threat, they are permitted to charge in self-defense. Rhino females typically give their babies the utmost attention.

Instead of scaring the elephant, the gentle giant takes the log and throws it toward the rhino! An elephant’s trunk has two nostrils that run the length of it and function as both an expansion of the nose and an upper lip. 

Elephants utilize their trunks for a variety of purposes, including breathing, object handling, scratching itchy eyes or ears, and even as a snorkel when exploring in the water. The people on the safari are clearly entertained by the fight. Luckily for them, it ends before things get too intense! 

Horns of rhinos are nearly 20 inches long and comprised of finely woven keratin. These horns can grow back after breaking, but it takes time. Even with the tough skin of an elephant, rhino horns can cause considerable harm when used as dangerous weapons. We can only hope that these two fierce animals made it to a point of understanding and respect before continuing on their own journeys.

Share this post on:
About the Author

When she's not busy playing with her several guinea pigs or her cat Finlay Kirstin is writing articles to help other pet owners. She's also a REALTOR® in the Twin Cities and is passionate about social justice. There's nothing that beats a rainy day with a warm cup of tea and Frank Sinatra on vinyl for this millennial.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.