Hippo

© Shem Compion

Name

Hippopotamus [Hippopotamus amphibius].

Appearance

The hippopotamus, usually abbreviated as hippo, can stay submerged underwater for five minutes before surfacing for air. The hippo is a semi-aquatic animal that weighs up to 2.5 tonnes and can easily walk on the riverbed beneath the water.

Hippo Diet

During the hot daytime in South Africa, the hippo sleeps in or around the riverbed. The hippo forages for food alongside the river at night when it is cooler.

Hippo Breeding

In South Africa, a female hippo can produce up to ten calves during her lifespan of around 35 years. The cow gives birth to a single calf after a gestation period of 240 days. Female hippos hide their newborns in the nearby reeds for a few days, until the baby is ready to join the herd.

Females become sexually mature at the age of seven or eight years old. Many believe the hippo carries her young in the water, but what actually happens is that the small calf rests itself on its mother for warmth during colder weather conditions. This is because the baby hippo loses body heat faster than the adult hippo.

Hippo Behaviour

Hippos are known to readily attack when they are wounded or threatened in the wild. They are considered to be the most dangerous animal in South Africa and responsible for many human deaths and injuries. They are also social animals and are usually found in a pod ranging from around 5-20 individuals.

Where They Are Found

Hippos once roamed across the entire country of South Africa, but now can only be found in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, Limpopo. They have been reintroduced to the Eastern and Western Cape provinces.

Field Notes

Hippos are a danger to human beings out in the wilderness of South Africa. They are known to bite small wooden boats or canoes that infringe upon their territory. The increase of attack on humans is due to the arrogance of many people not respecting the laws of nature.