Hippos have a notorious reputation as one of Africa’s fiercest animals, and this baby fighting off a lion proves that their ferocity develops early.

While lions are often viewed as “the king of the jungle,” even they tend to keep their distance from fully grown and highly territorial hippos. In this video, however, a single male lion decides to take a chance when he comes across a sick hippo and her calf.

Private safari director Jennie Bekker caught the rare moment on camera in the Kruger National Park, South Africa.

Thanks to a drought in the country, the severely malnourished mother hippo was unable to defend herself during the encounter. She laid on her side the entire time, making her an easy target for the hungry lion. Luckily, she had her brave baby to protect her — and it wasn’t giving up without a fight.

Instead of fleeing, the young hippo valiantly stood guard by its mother’s side and even charged directly toward the big cat several times, managing to successfully keep the predator away from the injured adult. At one point, the lion even sank its claws into the calf’s back, but the hippo seemed unfazed. No doubt that 2-inch thick layer of skin came in handy!

Perhaps recognizing the calf’s mettle, the lion eventually gave up and left the scene.

But unfortunately, the hippos’ victory was short-lived. While they survived the lion’s attack, both the mother and young hippo succumbed to the drought and died of starvation two day’s later.