Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hippos Galore

During the first part of the last tour, which "stretched" over 2 weeks, it seemed that hippos (short for: hippopotamus) "dominated" - meaning we regularly sighted these enormous amphibians.

I guess the prevalent weather conditions (bright sunshine but it's still winter in SA) contributed to this "change" in the more customary behaviour of staying in water during the day & only emerging at dusk to graze on dry land during the night.

Hippos often doze in the sun during the day, because these animals' skin is protected by a glandular secretion (working like a "sun protection lotion/cream"), but to virtually come across another hippo colony lazing on a river-bank around every second corner in the Kruger National Park, is rather unusual.

Even more unusual was the appearance of this hippo amongst very dry vegetation & far away from the river!!??

But then we got a side-view of this hippo (although only slightly visible in this photo) & detected deep wounds on its right flank; this animal must have been a participant in a fight or was chased away (probably by an alpha bull); the hippo's face was also covered in ticks, a very unusual occurrence for an animal mostly "at home" in water.

As I've mentioned in other postings on this blog before, hippos are very aggressive & therefore dangerous animals - actually known to have killed more people in Africa than e.g. lions or crocodiles!! Therefore it's a wise "precaution" to steer well clear of hippos at all times. On closer inspection this particular hippo . . . 

. . . wasn't wounded (as the other hippo above) but it certainly "sported" deep scratchmarks, which most hippos living in a colony "display".

With huge canine & incisor teeth like these - no wonder hippos are notorious for wounding each other as well as people, who, indeed, they can cut in half!!

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