Hippo, the most feared giant of the savannah who attacks lions, crocodiles, leopards, hyenas

The hippopotamus, or simply hippo, is a large, mostly herbivorous, semi-aquatic mammal native to sub-Saharan Africa.

In ancient times, hippos were often revered and feared in many African cultures. In ancient Egypt, they were associated with the god of chaos and violence, Set, and were considered a symbol of fertility and protection. They were also believed to have healing powers and were used in various medicinal remedies. In other African cultures, hippos were seen as symbols of power and aggression, and were often depicted in folklore and art. The San people of southern Africa, for example, believed that hippos were powerful and dangerous creatures that could easily kill humans.

 

Habitat:

Hippos are found in sub-Saharan Africa, living in rivers, lakes, and swamps. They are most commonly found in East Africa, particularly in Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda.

They prefer shallow, slow-moving water with plenty of vegetation for grazing.

Physical structure:

Hippos are known for their massive size, with the average adult male weighing around 1500 kg. They have a barrel-shaped body, short legs, and a large head with a broad mouth and sharp teeth.

Hippos are known to have one of the strongest bites in the animal kingdom, with a biting power of up to 400 kilograms per square cm. To put that into perspective, a human’s bite force is only about 28 kilograms per square cm. This makes hippos capable of easily crushing bones and even snapping crocodiles in half with their powerful jaws.

Their skin is thick, hairless, and grayish-brown in color.

They have a unique adaptation that allows them to secrete a reddish substance from their skin that acts as a natural sunscreen and antibacterial agent.

 

Diet:

Hippos are herbivores and feed mostly on grass. They can consume up to 75 kilograms of vegetation in a single night and they have a unique digestive system that allows them to extract nutrients efficiently from their food.

 

Social behavior:

Hippos are aggressive and territorial animals, and they can be very dangerous to humans and other animals, especially when they have to protect their cubs from predators such as crocodiles, lions, leopards or hyenas.

So hippos can attack and kill other animals, including predators. Their large size and sharp teeth make them a formidable opponent. In fact, hippos are considered to be the most dangerous wild animal in Africa, responsible for around 500 human deaths each year. They are known to be very aggressive and unpredictable, which makes them a threat to other animals as well. It is important to exercise caution and maintain a safe distance when observing hippos in the wild.

Hippos can even attack vehicles too. In fact, there have been several incidents of hippos attacking vehicles in national parks and other areas where they live. These attacks can be very dangerous, as hippos are incredibly strong and can weigh over 1,500 kilograms. It is important, even for people driving a vehicle, to maintain a respectful distance and avoid approaching them, particularly during mating season when they can be more aggressive.

They are social and can be found in groups of up to 30 individuals.

Hippos are mostly active at night and spend most of their days in the water to avoid the heat.

They communicate with grunts, snorts, and bellows, and their ears and eyes are adapted for hearing and seeing while submerged in water.

 

Predators:

Hippos are generally not threatened by predators due to their large size and aggressive nature. However, young hippos are more vulnerable to predators such as crocodiles and lions. In areas where hippos coexist with lions, there have been reports of lions attacking young hippos when they are separated from their mothers. In addition, when female hippos give birth, they may need to defend their offspring from other hippos.

 

Gestation and growth of offspring:

Hippos are known to be very protective of their young, and this extends to their control over the water in which they swim. A mother hippopotamus will typically control the area around her calf, and she may even push other hippos away from her offspring. However, when it comes to diving into the water, the calf will usually do so on its own, with the mother closely watching nearby. It’s important for the calf to learn how to swim and navigate the water on its own, but the mother will always be nearby to ensure its safety.

Hippos have a gestation period of around 240 days, and they mate every two years during the end of the dry season and beginning of the rainy season. The mating process is initiated by the male checking if females are ready to mate by smelling their urine or behinds. Mating takes place in water, and females can produce a calf each year during the three-day window of their seasonal polyestrous period. The calf is born underwater and the mother and calf have a strong relationship from birth, with the calf staying with the mother until it reaches sexual maturity at the age of seven or eight years old.

Hippos typically have one calf at a time, and the gestation period is around 8 months. Females are known to be able to conceive again while still nursing their current calf, but it’s important to note that the mortality rate for newborn hippos is high, and not all calves survive to adulthood. Additionally, due to hippos’ aggressiveness,  females with young calves may need to defend their offspring from other hippos in the area.

 

In conclusion, the hippo is a fascinating and powerful animal, feared by many but also respected for its tenacity and devotion to its young.