Life Style
Hippopotamus: A wonder animalPublish Date: Jul 16, 2014
Hippopotamus: A wonder animal
  • mail
  • img
Male hippos fighting for dominance. PHOTO/ Andrew Masinde
newvision

By Andrew Masinde                        

A trip to the National Parks left me amazed at how animals behave. It's all out there, you only need to pay attention to details or else you may miss a spectacular wildlife experience.

While taking a boat ride at the Kazinga Channel trails, you see different animals.One of which is the hippopotamus.

The animal is said to be the most dangerous wild mammals in Africa. Based on human fatalities this 'reputation' is probably well deserved.

According to Birra Patronella, interpretive guide at Queen Elizabeth National Park, unlike most land animals that usually have many escape options; this animal has a relatively small area to escape to and that is water.

If they get frightened on land they run back to water.

“On land a hippopotamus can reach a top speed of 40 kilometres per hour and they are surprisingly quick. To get between this animal and water is to risk being trampled upon as it tries to get to safety. Yawning is a dominance signal and a clear signal for intruders to stay away,” she explains.

She added that they have a unique shape and size with adults weighing around 1500 kg. They are the third-largest living land mammal in Africa, after elephants and white rhinos.

The plump and bulky body is set on short, stumpy legs.

Justus Tusuubira, conservation area manager Lake Mburo National Park says hippos prefer water with gently sloping banks. When viewing these African animals in water, you will see only the tops, heads and backs.

“During the day they are submerged in water, which must be at least 1-5 meters deep. They can submerge under water for up to six minutes,” he said.

Hippos leave in harmony with buffalos.PHOTO/ Andrew Masinde

He said that they suffer from sunburn, which cracks their skin. They also wallow in mud holes when there is no water available.

As you enjoy watching them sunbathe, the calves indulge in play-fights and pushing contests.

The basic unit of hippopotamus society is a group of up to 30, comprising of females with their calves.

They are lorded over by a single dominant bull that has gained his position by being successful in combat against other males.


An egret flying to pick a tick from a Hippo . PHOTO/ Andrew Masinde

This gives the bull exclusive access to the females in his group.

The groups are territorial, each occupying a stretch of river or lake. The herd bull is extremely aggressive to challengers. He marks his territory, by splattering dung onto rocks and bushes.
Hippos are versatile in communication.

They can make sounds like a horse neighing, which might be one reason for their name.

Hippopotamus means "river horse". They also communicate by grunting, bellowing, and, of all things, mooing. A mooing sound is typically that of a female hippo looking for a mate.


 Male hippos fighting for dominance
. PHOTO/ Andrew Masinde

 

Related Stories

The bustling wildlife

Wildlife in danger

Game Park tourists increase by 17.5%

Kidepo Valley National Park marks 50

 

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Don
One of the most senior members of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government sparked an outcry on Tuesday after declaring that women should not laugh loudly in public....
Runaway bride forced to abort accused of theft
At just 18-years, she was forced to terminate her lover's pregnancy and given away to another man. A month into her arranged marriage she fled; now she is accused of theft....
I left street, drugs, for phone repairing
In a small single-roomed shop, Ishak Kalumba is busy repairing a phone. His white sleeveless vest, which exposes sizeable biceps, and baggy trouser with six pockets, speak of his youth....
I escaped death by hugging the murderer
Patricia Nalukwago, the proprietor of XPAP Forex Bureau in Entebbe, is successful in her own way. But Nalukwago is living a life shrouded in anxiety. Twice, unknown gun-wielding assailants have shot at her car and house in Entebbe....
Spanish nightclub closed over sex-for-drinks game
A nightclub on the Spanish holiday island of Majorca where a young woman performed oral sex on several men reportedly in exchange for free drinks was ordered shut for a year by local authorities...
‘I cannot ask sex workers to quit’
A woman who describes herself as the "ssenga (counselor) of sex workers" says she cannot ask prostitutes to quit the trade....
Should private schools and institutions be given tax exemption?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter