A Peak into the Life of the Hippopotamus

Foraging Hippo (Hippopotamus amphibius)
Kruger National Park, South Africa; AUG 2016

A Peak into the Life of the Hippopotamus

When I see pictures of the hippopotamus, it is usually the 2 iconic images: just the nose, eyes and maybe ears sticking out of the eater or just a little of the body above the waterline and with Oxpeckers on its back. I was recently going cleaning and organizing my photo library and took a new look at the images from our Africa trip 3 years ago. In it, was a good collection of hippos in the routine activities of their daily life. So, I thought I’d share them with you.

Some of the images involve a battle over a water hole. Watching that battle unfold was one of the most fascinating events I ever witnessed. I’ve observed that when deer, antelope, sheep and goats battle, it involves locking horns and pushing back and forth until one succumbs and backs off. The hippo battle was similar. They open their mouths wide and attack then push back and forth until one succumbs. But, it also has some similarities to the sumo wrestling I have seen. Two large, muscular, creatures embracing in battle for short periods, back off for a short while, then go at again.

The Red-billed Oxpeckers in the photos are feasting on the bugs in the hippo’s wounds.

Note: Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution.

Resting Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius)
Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa; AUG 2016
A Pensive Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius)
Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa; AUG 2016
Don’t Mess WIth Me; Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius)
Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa; AUG 2016
You’re in My watering hole; Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius)
Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa; AUG 2016
The Face Off; Two Hippopotamuses Ready to Fight Over Water Hole
Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa; AUG 2016
The Challenge; Two Hippopotamuses Ready to Spar
Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa; AUG 2016
This Round is Underway; Two Hippopotamuses Fighting Over Water Hole
Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa,; AUG 2016
The Round Continues; Two Hippopotamuses Continue to Spar Over Water Hole
Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa; AUG 2016
Attack and Defense; Two Hippopotamuses Continue to Spar Over Water Hole
Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa; AUG 2016
The Vanquished Hippopotamus Departs;
Two Hippopotamuses Continue to Spar Over Water Hole
Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa; AUG 2016 #Photography
Battle Over;
Hippopotamus with Red-billed Oxpecker ;
After many rounds, the battle is over, the challenger is vanquished.
Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa, AUG 2016
Hippopotamus Foraging on Land – P2
Kruger National Park, South Africa; AUG 2016
Sunbathing Hippopotamuses
Kruger National Park, South Africa; AUG 2016
Hippo in Reflection
Kruger National Park, South Africa; AUG 2016

These and other images are available to purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

Hippopatamus – The Battle for Dominance

 

A Pensive Hippo
The Pensive Hippo, Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

I was very surprised by the number of hippopotamus we saw on our visit to South Africa.  I expected to see some but their numbers really surprised me.  As we travelled and spoke with guides/rangers we learned that despite what we saw this year has been devastating for the hippo population.  Drought has dried up rivers and significantly impacted the amount of grass available for foraging.  Typical hippo behavior is to spend the daytime hours in the water and forage at night.  They also spend time on the shore sunbathing in the warm sun.  Drought has forced them to travel further distances to find food and, in some cases, they just aren’t finding enough.

With water in short supply, maintaining a place to drink and soak during the day is important.  In the game lodges, as well as in Kruger, we saw many man made water holes filled by pumping groundwater.  Many were filled with pumps driven by windmills.  These water holes are a win-win.  They provide water for animals and a place for tourists to visit and watch them.   Part of me rails against such an unnatural arrangement, but in the end, I am alright with it.  It’s part of the vicious cycle: tourists come to see animals in the wild, animals need habitat and protection, habitat and protection costs money, tourists bring money.

There is an older hippo who claims the water hole at Elephant Plains Game Lodge as his own.  While were there, the hippo returned from foraging to find another male had moved in.  A fight ensued.  Hippo fights are noisy affairs accompanied by wide stretched jaws and attacks with sharp teeth.  They fight until one backs down or is killed.

One of the iconic pictures of hippos and rhinos shows them with the oxpecker bird on their backs.  The relationship is symbiotic but benefits the bird more than the hippo or rhino.  The oxpecker eats ticks on the beast but also eats fly larvae that grow in the wounds incurred by these animals.

I hope you enjoy these hippo images.  Please look closely at the battle pictures.  These beasts can be very scary and aggressive.

Regards,

Larry

Note: The images can be seen in larger size by clicking on the image or by visiting the Hippos Gallery on my website: https://larryklink.smugmug.com/South-African-Adventure-2016/Hippos/

Don't Mess WIth Me
Don’t Mess With Me, Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Your in MY watering hole
He returned from foraging and found another male inhabitng his water hole. He gave his warning. Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

The Face Off
The Face Off, Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

The Challenge
The Challenge, Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

This Round is Underway
The Round is Underway, Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

The Round Continues
The Round Continues, Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Attack and Defense
Attack and Defense, Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Battle Over
The Battle is Over, After many rounds, the battle is over, the challenger is vanquished. Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Time to Relax
Time to Relax, Hippo and Oxpecker, Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Sunbathing
Sunbathing, Kruger National Park, South Africa, AUG 2016

Foraging Hippo
Foraging Hippo, Kruger National Park, South Africa, AUG 2016

Hippo in Reflection
Hippo in Reflection, Kruger National Park, South Africa, AUG 2016