Photo. The hippopotamuses, hippos, enjoy cooling down in waterholes and are popular to watch, but look up! Reiseliv & Per Henriksen (www.reiseliv.no).
Hippos are considered as the most deadly animal for humans in Africa, which surprises many including me. The name hippopotamus comes from 2 Greek words that mean river horse. Be aware that these animals are aggressive and not afraid of people. Hippos have a good sense of smell and hearing.
Their eyesight is rather poor. One of the reasons hippos kill so many people per year is because the people do not know where the hippos are. Suddenly they emerge in a high speed and people stand in their way get injured or killed. Hippos moves fast like heavy tanks, panser wagons. According to Wikipedia hippos have been clocked at 30 km/h (19 mph) over short distances.
It`s difficult to imagine that the hippos are dangerous for people. They have big fat body and short thick feet. They like cooling down and swim in the lakes. The hippos are so heavy that they sink directly to the bottom in the lakes without floating up. They can hold their breath for 5 minutes.
The hippos’ sight is not good, but due to their broad corpulent body, they hit most of their preys in a high speed and stamp them down. They are not bloodthirsty like the lions and are not sleeping in the day as the lions and there are no other animals hunting them just as the same with the lions. It was strange for me to observe that hippos and crocodile could join in the same lake, but that`s another story (see our article on our global travel guide www.TravelExplorations.com).
Their mood are unstable and they don`t excuse themselves for it. They have also a big mouth and long sharp theeth. Anyway don`t worry! The hippos don`t eat you! They are vegetarians! There is one big difference between hippos and lions: the hippos are vegetarians and the lions eat meat. Another difference is that the lions make big roars and that scare both humans and animals.
The hippopotamus is recognizable by its barrel-shaped torso, enormous mouth and teeth, nearly hairless body, stubby legs and tremendous size. It is the third-largest land mammal by weight (between 1½ and 3 tonnes), behind the white rhinoceros (1½ to 3½ tonnes) and the three species of elephant (3 to 9 tonnes). Despite its stocky shape and short legs, it can easily outrun a human.
There are an estimated 125,000 to 150,000 hippos throughout Sub-Saharan Africa; Zambia (40,000) and Tanzania (20,000–30,000) possess the largest populations. They are still threatened by habitat loss and poaching for their meat and ivory canine teeth.
Hippopotamuses are by nature very aggressive animals, especially when young calves are present. Frequent targets of their aggression include crocodiles, which often inhabit the same river habitat as hippos. Nile crocodiles, lions, and spotted hyenas are known to prey on young hippos.
Hippos are very aggressive towards humans, whom they commonly attack whether in boats or on land with no apparent provocation. They are widely considered to be one of the most dangerous large animals in Africa. To mark territory, hippos spin their tails while defecating to distribute their excrement over the greatest possible area. Likely for the same reason, hippos are retromingent-- that is, they urinate backwards.
Hippos are still found in the rivers and lakes of Uganda, Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, northern Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia, west through Ghana to Gambia, and also in Southern Africa (Botswana, Republic of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia). A separate population exists in Tanzania and Mozambique. They like to dwell in places with permanent water that isn't too deep.
Hippos spend most of their days wallowing in the water or the mud, with the other members of their pod. The water serves to keep their body temperature down, and to keep their skin from drying out. With the exception of eating, most of hippopotamuses' lives —from childbirth, fighting with other hippos, and reproduction— occur in the water. Hippos leave the water at dusk and travel inland, sometimes up to 8 kilometers (5 mi), to graze on short grass, their main source of food. They spend four to five hours grazing and can consume 68 kilograms (150 lb) of grass each night.
As I am fully aware of now: the hippopotamus is one of the most aggressive creatures in the world and is probably the most dangerous animals in Africa. Just like me, I assume most people consider hippos as fat, slow and lazy animal. The hippos like to swim around in the rivers and lakes in Africa. They seem to live an easy and relaxed life, and are not the type of animals that bother humans. But do you know what African animal kills more people per year than any other? Surprisingly, it's not the lion as I believed. Never underestimated the hippos. They are the most feared animals in Africa. They bite people, trample people, and turn around boats.
Stein Morten Lund, 7 February 2011
Additional informationBased on information from Wikipedia and other sources.