* all collective names for hippo
The call of the common hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) is one of those unique African sounds that reverberates through my whole being. The local languages have lovely onomatopoeic names for the hippo - Luvuvhu and Mvuvhu being some of the best ones.
The hippo is high on the list of animals to see for many visitors to Africa, and misconceptions about the hippo abound.
Let me put you straight:-
It is NOT cute or cuddly, but is fierce, aggressive and dangerous
It is NOT slow or passive, but can outrun a human over short distances
It does NOT swim, but runs along the bottom of rivers and lakes
It does NOT hunt or eat meat or fish, but grazes grass on shore and pulls aquatic vegetation to the surface to chew on.
It is known in many quarters as the most dangerous mammal in Africa. It kills more people than any of the other large mammals including lion, elephant or buffalo.
|scary eyes when you are in a canoe!|
It's aggressive nature is probably caused or aggravated by it's relatively small “home space”.
Never get between a hippo and it's hippo “pool”.
I've done several canoeing trips on the Zambezi River and avoiding hippo, by all means, is a major focus every day. However, on safari in Kruger we are usually observing hippo from a safe distance and from a vehicle.
Here in South Africa, we only find hippo in a few places, mostly within the northern and eastern conservation areas. This is mainly because we are a semi-arid country and don't have a lot of suitable hippo habitat around.
So in general, finding and observing hippo is pleasurably exciting, rather than terrifyingly nerve-racking.
Here are a few of my favourite hippo photos, taken over the last 6 years........
Hippos and their calves
This jaw-to-jaw sparring session got quite serious.
Close to their "homes" hippo can get aggressive with any animal close to their size, as with this youngster first "yawning" at these Cape Buffalo, and then chasing them off!
But with the smaller animals, like these terrapin and African Jacana the hippo don't stir a whisker!
Most of the time hippo spend the day sleeping submerged in the water having spent each night grazing on shore. So we don't often get great views of hippo......
Occasionally we are very lucky and they come very close to my favourite Kruger "hide" - that's where many of these photos come from.
And as a last thought, I think there is a new collective name we could apply to hippo, specifically when they are sleeping out on the beach - a heap of hippo - very applicable, don't you think?