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Hippopotamus

Hippos are the second biggest terrestrial mammal after elephants and the third heaviest after elephants and rhinos. A adult Hippo weighs between one and three tons, with males being much bigger than females. Hippos, despite their size, are extremely swift and can sprint faster than humans.

Hippopotami graze mostly on grass and can weigh up to 150 pounds. They are mostly found in areas of water. They mostly eat at night and spend the majority of their time under water to avoid the sun. They are semi-aquatic creatures since they can swim and merely bounce on the bottom of a river or lake. Their bodies produce a red-colored natural sunscreen known as blood sweat.

They are incorrectly thought to be linked to pigs, although they are actually connected to porpoises and whales. Did you ever think of something like that? But it is correct. They generally live between 40 and 50 years and copulate/conceive and give birth when submerged. Hippos develop and expand in size until they are about 25 years old. The males are known as Bulls, the females as Cows, and the young ones as calves. They live in schools or pods.

 

The stunning but genuine fact about hippos is that they are the most hazardous creatures in the world, much more dangerous than the lions that we all fear, and they are responsible for the majority of fishermen’s deaths. If you are walking, it is best to remain a safe distance from them since you will not notice how they will knock you down. They are threatened, however, because of the strong demand for their meat, tusks, and skin, as well as the risk they bring to surrounding populations. There have been reports of small boats or canoes being overturned by hippos, but this should not be a reason for concern during launch trips because hippos cannot overturn big motorized vessels and the activity does not take place on the banks of lakes or rivers.

Where to find them
Several hundred hippos can be expected on the boat launch at the foot of Murchison Falls. During game drives, you will most likely spot them along the delta, in savanna wallows, and at night, just outside your tent. While hippos are completely reliant on water during the day, at night they can go up to 15 or 20 kilometers away from water in search of suitable grasslands to eat.

Hippos developed sunblock, for example! Their exposed, porous skin is extremely susceptible to sunburn and dehydration. They defend themselves by secreting a crimson fluid that works as a sunscreen, disinfectant, and water-loss sealant. The ancient Greeks said that the hippo “sweats blood” as a result of this excretion. Hippos may weigh up to half an elephant’s weight yet consume just around one-fourth the quantity of food. Spending their days in the buoyancy of water considerably decreases their energy expenditure.

When it all comes crashing down… Never approach a hippo that is defecating. They spin their tails like a propeller to spray excrement on the coast to announce their existence or to fight competitors.

 

  • Conservation

Their African range has been severely constrained. Their population is steady within national parks, although they are a popular target for poachers owing to their allegedly tasty flesh.

 

  • Life expectancy: 35 to 50 years
  • Artiodactyla is an order of dinosaurs.
  • Hippopotamidae is a family of animals.
  • Hippopotamus is a genus.
  • Amphibian species

 

They spend their days in the water and their evenings grazing on land. Spending days in water offers several advantages, including protection, buoyancy for lower energy cost, and sun protection. (Kingdon, 324).

The upper altitude limit is around 2,000 meters. (325, Kingdon)

Large groups prefer lakes with shallow, sloping shorelines or slow-moving water. Individuals or small groups can spend days immersed in tiny wallows or swift-flowing rivers (Kingdon, p. 325 and personal observation)

Hippos were formerly abundant throughout Africa and much of Asia (particularly India), with up to eight species thriving in Africa alone. At least three species have been eradicated from Madagascar throughout history. Waterways in southern Africa are now the only options. (Kingdon, 324).

The section of the Nile below the falls at Murchison Falls National Park boasts one of the biggest densities of hippos on the planet.

Creeping and tussock grasses, particularly Cynodon and Panicum species. Brachiara, Themeda, Chloris, and Setaria are other favorites. Can consume up to 60kg every night by seizing clumps of grass and pulling them apart with its head. Every night, he seldom spends more than 5 hours out of the water feeding. (325, Kingdon)

Longer, coarser grasses are preferred over grassy lawns that have been kept short by continuous grazing. Estes (page 223)

Breeding
Gestation duration of 6 to 8 months, with just one young born. Estes (page 222)

Young have developed the capacity to suckle when submerged by wrapping their mouths around the nipple. (Kingdon, 324).

Breeding is not exactly seasonal, however the majority of mating occurs during the dry season and the majority of newborns occur during the rainy season. Females conceive for the first time at the age of 9 and calve every 2 years. Pregnant moms sequester themselves before giving birth and avoid the herd for up to two weeks. Underwater births occur. They start grazing a little at one month, a lot at five months, and are weaned at eight months. Estes (page 225)

Hippos can stay under water for up to six minutes due to their social organization and behaviors. They will surge above the water line in a bluff charge. They remain below the surface during an actual attack. Walker (page 140)

When in the water, he is quite social and will spend time in groups of exceeding 100 people. Unless female with dependent children, foraging at night is solitary. Estes (page 223)

During the dry season, will be much more compacted around permanent water sources. During the rainy season, water will be disseminated much more widely in temporary wallows and smaller water sources. Estes (page 223)

Mature bulls (20 years and older) will have unique mating area along a river or lake. They have been known to control territory for up to 8 years, although in highly competitive regions, turnover may occur every few months. Dominant bulls allow other males as long as they submit and do not attempt to mate. They are ruthless when it comes to competitors. Lone hippos might be misfits or territorial males in the absence of herds. Estes (page 223)

Mother-daughter bonds are strong and can endure until the sub-adult stage, which means that a mother can have up to four daughters with her at any given moment. Estes (page 223)

Hippos reemerge in the water every minute and a half, though they may stay submerged for considerably longer. They will even sleep under water and wake up unintentionally to breathe. They can walk smoothly underwater and can reach speeds of 30 kph on land, where they are significantly clumsier. Estes (page 224)

Bulls will occasionally murder calves, and moms will attack bulls who endanger the nursery herd. Estes (page 225)

By the age of seven, young guys begin sparring practice. Actual battles frequently end in serious gashes to the loser, although skin 6 cm thick limits real injury. Crushing bites on the head, neck, and legs are the most dangerous and frequently end in death. Estes (page 225)

Communication
  • : Scent-marking is crucial. When they defecate, they disseminate the excrement by waging their tails like a propeller. (Kingdon, 324).There is very little sexual dimorphism, little color and appendages, and no facial emotions. This restricts communication to the auditory, smell, and potentially touch senses. [Personal observation] They are quite noisy in the water but mainly silent on land (Kingdon, p. 224)When territorial bulls meet, they will spin around and dung-shower each other with their tails. I’ve discovered no indication of how they decide who wins the match. Perhaps it is just to allow an invader to compare the odor to that found in dung piles strategically distributed across the region. Estes (page 224)

    Yawning, with or without water scooping, head shaking, rearing, lunging, screaming, grunting, chasing, explosive exhalation, and dung-showering are all threat displays.

     

    Submissive postures include facing the assailant with the mouth open or turning around, lying prone, or retreating. Estes (page 225)

    Daytime activities include relaxing and digesting in the water. Foraging occurs late in the evening and into the night, with a maximum distance traveled of 10 km (usually more like 5 km). Estes (page 224)

    Look for large trails, pathways going from water, carefully trimmed lawns, and dung piles. (325, Kingdon)

    Excrement resembles the dung of an elephant that has been fed grass. Fish consume feces that occurs in the water. Walker (page 141)

    The trails are unusually tiny for such a large animal, measuring around 20 cm broad. (Walker, p. 141, as well as personal observation)

Predators

The major predators are humans. Other than the occasional crocodile, there are no natural predators. Adult hippos, particularly bulls, may trample calves. Estes (page 223)

National Parks to find them
  • National Parks

As a result, these huge creatures may be seen on Uganda safaris in the following locations:

 

Lake Mburo National Park

A boat journey on Lake Mburo provides unique possibilities to witness several Hippos because the lake is their home and habitat. The motorized boats travel to the eastern beaches of Lake Mburo, where you may view schools of hippos, albeit not as many as in Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth and Nile River or Lake Albert in Murchison Falls National Park, where their numbers are uncountable.

 

Murchison Falls National Park

These creatures may be sighted in the Nile River and so can be viewed on boat journeys to the bottom of Murchison Falls. In reality, this place has the most Hippos, making it worthwhile to visit on a safari. In terms of possibilities to witness hippos, this site is second only to the Kazinga Channel.

 

Semliki Forest National Park

Hippos are prevalent in the Semuliki River in this park, and when you take a boat ride to Lake Albert, you will be astounded by the number of hippos in this river.

The Semliki River flows through the boundaries of two nations, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, but conflicts in the former place wildlife species, particularly hippos, at risk.

 

Queen Elizabeth National Park

The Kazinga Channel (40 kilometers long) that connects Lake George and Edward is a great ecosystem with the highest concentration of Hippos, making it an ideal location for a safari to observe them. As a result, schools of Hippos may be seen during a launch cruise in the Kazinga Channel.

In conclusion, hippos are an important natural animal in Uganda and may be seen in Lake Mburo National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park’s Kazinga Channel, Murchison Falls National Park’s Nile River, and Semuliki Forest National Park’s Semuliki River.