In a textbook case of 'biting off more than you can chew', a particularly ambitious crocodile was recently caught on camera attempting (more than once) to clamp its jaws on an elephant. The unusual behaviour was captured on a live Africam camera feed that overlooks a dam near Zimbabwe's Victoria Falls Safari Lodge in the Zambezi National Park.

The crocodile was filmed on multiple occasions snapping at the trunks and legs of elephants as they quenched their thirst. At one point the croc succeeded in latching onto the trunk of one of the elephants and was immediately flung from the water as the screeching pachyderm scrambled to shake off its reptilian accessory.

Nile crocodiles are Africa's largest reptiles with some individuals reaching over six metres (20 feet) in length. While they are capable of tackling large prey, and have a fearsome reputation as clinical ambush hunters, much of their diet is made up of fish. Elephants are probably not on the menu. Even a newborn calf that tips the scales at around 90 kg (200 lb) would present a significant challenge for a croc. However, evidence suggests that crocodiles do occasionally snap at elephants either out of instinct, in an attempt to bite off a morsel of meat, or in defence of their aquatic territories.

Croc domains can span several kilometres and are usually dependent on the availability of resources like food and water as well as how many other crocs are competing for the same spot. Nile crocodile societies are governed by a strict social hierarchy – older, larger males lay claim to the best and biggest territories while younger, subordinate males are forced to live on the fringes. Territorial disputes may break out on occasion if one of the reptiles oversteps its boundaries, but croc life is typically peaceful. Even interspecies interactions with hippos are mostly amicable, both parties perhaps aware of the dangers of engaging in a scuffle.

Elephants are water-dependent animals that need to drink hundreds of litres a day to sustain their huge bodies. They seek out the best quality water and will often dig 'wells' in sandy riverbeds to get at the precious underground aqua below. Crocodiles usually steer clear of the giant mammals, but on occasion, particularly daring crocs will take a chance. Last year, a safari guide working in Zambia captured footage of an elephant shaking a croc off its tail as it crossed the Luangwa River, and back in 2014 photographer Gareth Larkan captured a series of images of an elephant with a crocodile attached to its trunk.

For the most part, these encounters seem to end in a failed hunt for the croc and an injured trunk for the elephant, but for one croc in Zambia that strayed a bit too close to a mother elephant and her calf, the result was a bit more severe. Unhappy with the croc's presence, the elephant repeatedly stomped on the reptile ultimately crushing it to death:

Top header image: Federico Moroni, Flickr