What do you do when you have hundreds of photos of hippos?
That’s not a joke. I’m asking.
Here’s what I’m doing with a few of them. Yes, Mike, just a few. You’re welcome, everyone else.
This is the Khwai River. It comes off the Okavango River and forms part of the northern border of Moremi Game Reserve. It’s not a very big river, at lease not here, but it seems like a good and reliable water source.
You can camp here in a community-operated campground, in actual designated campsites, but there are no amenities. We stayed here three years ago, but only for one night. I would stay here again for several nights, but I’m not sure it’s on the agenda this time around.
According to one source, hippos are the third largest land mammals, with elephants and rhinos out-sizing them. However, another source counts giraffes as larger than hippos. I’ll just say they’re enormous.
Multi-species photo: Hippo, egret, waterbucks, zebras
As in the hero of our tale.
“Hippopotamus” comes from the ancient Greek for “river horse.” The Greek adjective follows the noun, though, so it’s “hippo” that means “horse,” not “potamus.”
River, yes. Horse? Hmm . . . I don’t think so, ancient Greeks.
More like τελμα λουκανικο, or telma loukaniko, or telmaloukaniko. According to Google Translate, that’s “swamp sausage” in Greek! Although, technically, I think it would be λουκανικο τελμα.
Okay, probably not howling. Singing opera, perhaps. Actually, I don’t know if this one is vocalizing at all; it very well might be standing there with its mouth open. They do that. Apparently, facing another hippo with your mouth open is a sign of submission. (So I’m likely to be seen as no threat when I get face-to-face with a hippo, right?)
But perhaps I should point out that this one isn’t facing anyone. It might be looking at us, or not. It is walking from Pool A to Pool B.
I’m unclear what constitutes an aggressive yawn and what constitutes a submissive open mouth.
These two definitely seem to be sparring.
“Water scooping” is another common behavior that is said to be an aggressive display.
That’s a big scoop splash! Is this an exceptionally grumpy hippo?
A Fine Hippo How-Do-You-Do?
It started like this:
A Tale of Two Hippos turns into A Tail of One and A Tale of Woe.
See if you can make out what’s happening before I explain. Mike got a series of still photos, and I managed to make a bad (but mercifully short) video. In my defense, I was filming something else and had to swing over to this action while something else entirely was also screaming for my attention. Seriously, three things happening at once. It’s a wonder I got anything at all.
The still photos:
Fifteen-second video of the same, which you can see full-screen on YouTube.
Want to be a hippo?
Scientists have decided to call this “dung showering.” We have to call it something because it’s a common behavior. That’s right, everybody’s doing it, on land and in the water; although, not always in someone’s face. Sometimes they shower in solitude. Some people report watching two bulls standing head to tail do this to one another, and others have witnessed territorial males meet at a shared border and exchange excrement.
As always when it comes to animal behavior, we can only theorize about why hippos do this, but let’s do that, okay?*
- to demonstrate dominance
- to mark territory or announce one’s presence
- because hippos that did this survived, and hippos that didn’t do this died
- freedom of expression through exterior design
All quiet on the hippo front. Huh. This may be the most rare sighting—and photo—of the lot.
*I might be joking about one of these.