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Archive for March 22nd, 2020

Hungry, Hungry What?

Why it’s a hungry, hungry river horse of course. Doesn’t sound right? Ah, well perhaps hungry, hungry hippo sounds a little more familiar. We call this third largest mammal a hippopotamus (which comes from the Ancient Greek for river horse), and you will find him in or by the water. He can walk under water on the river bed and sleeps in or beside the water.

The cow gives birth in shallow water (the calves are able to swim before they can walk), and hides her baby in the reeds. After a few days, they both rejoin the rest of the herd.

Have you ever heard the myth that the hippopotamus sweats blood? If you look closely at their pictures you may see some of the oily red substance they secrete that was the root of that myth. This substance acts as a moisturizer and sunblock all in one. And under the African sun, we need both!

three hippos (2)

We were lucky enough to watch these fellows basking in the African sun, but we did it safely from a blind. You don’t want to get too close to these guys. They are the most dangerous mammal in Africa and responsible for the most human fatalities in the wild.

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The increase in attacks on humans is primarily attributed to people’s arrogance and disrespect while in the wild. I wouldn’t dream of disrespecting this animal who is capable of chomping a wooden canoe in half. How can a puny human weighing a couple hundred pounds have the audacity to mess with a three-ton animal with a mouth like this? 

Hippo

Google Image

So if you’re ever cruising along a river in Mpumalanga or Limpopo and you’re lucky enough to see these eyes, get your pictures, but do it from a safe distance. If you’re doing that kind of touring, you probably have a zoom lens. Use it!

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This will be my last article on the animals of South Africa–for now–unless someone asks for a particular animal we may have seen in our visits there.  I’d love to hear your comments or opinions on this series, and I look forward to starting a whole new series on an entirely different topic next week.

 

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