Hippos – Dangerous vegetarians
Fat and friendly? Not so. A hippo is a force to be reckoned with. These huge semi-aquatic mammals are quite commonly seen when out on safari. During the day they like to spend most of their time lazing about in the water, not doing much. They seem harmless and lazy, but weighing in at up to 3 ton, they can easily reach speeds of up to 30km/h when charging. Hippos are known to be unpredictable and this makes them one of the most dangerous animals on the African continent.
There is an old African story about hippos:
When God created the animals he told the hippo to be kind and gentle and to protect other smaller creatures. But one day the hippo decided he was big and strong so he ate a dik dik! The other dik diks were very upset about this and they told God what happened.
Angered by his actions God called the hippo and told him “I made you big and strong to help your smaller friends in the bush, but you disobeyed me. For that you will be punished. From today onwards you will spend the entire day in the water. If you come out your skin will burn, you will only be allowed to eat at night all alone when everyone else is sleeping, and finally when you go to the toilet you have to spread your dung all over the place so that I can check that there are no fish bones in it! “
Most of the important aspects in a hippo’s life take place in the water where they feel most at home. Mating, giving birth and suckling the babies all happen in the water. Hippos are quite territorial and big bulls usually have up to 10 females and a stretch of river which they consider their property. Occasionally a young bull may enter another bull’s territory but as long as he behaves he will be left alone. As soon as darkness sets in the hippos go onto land to graze individually and in one evening they can cover up to 10km looking for food. The hippos mark their evening grazing routes in order to help them find their way back to the water. Luckily for the other residents of the waters hippos are vegetarian and as nature intended, all creatures live in harmony with one another. Even the crocodiles know to keep their distance.