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Anouk Zijlma

The Hippopotamus

By November 18, 2006

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hippopotamus southern africa Despite being a vegetarian, the hippo is responsible for more human fatalities in Africa than any other animal, making it Africa's most dangerous beast.

Hippos spend most of their day lolling about in water and can stay submerged for more than 10 minutes. If a small fishing boat or canoe filled with tourists happens to be above their heads when they come up for air, there's little to protect the vessel from capsizing. Anyone who has spent time in Southern African waters surrounded by pods of hippos can attest to the terrifying feeling you get when you're surrounded by these huge snorting fellows. (The only land animal that's bigger than the hippo is the elephant).

Male hippos actively defend their territories which run along the banks of the rivers and lakes where they live. Humans tend to get killed by hippos when they stand on a riverbank or beach that a male hippo considers to be his territory.

Females have also been known to get extremely aggressive if they sense anyone coming in between their babies, who stay in the water while she feeds on the shore. Hippos can run at speeds of over 20 miles an hour and they have enormous jaws which host up to 20 inch canines. There's not a lot you can do if one comes straight at you.

Some more interesting facts about the hippo:

  • Hippos secrete a natural sunscreen that is colored red and eventually turns brown
  • The hippo's closest living relative is the whale
  • Fully grown hippos consume over 100 pounds of vegetation per day.
  • Hippos regularly kill crocodiles
  • The hippo is in danger of becoming extinct
  • Hippos can't jump

Image of a hippo at Mana Pools, Zimbabwe by © David Hutchinson

December 5, 2010 at 12:03 am
(1) Paul says:

Has anyone who says this ever been to Africa? I bet that the cow is more dangerous. I know of lots of accidents between cars and cows with fatalities but no hippo fatalities.

Think about it.

December 7, 2010 at 12:09 pm
(2) goafrica says:

I have spent much of my life in Africa and know for a fact that hippos have killed many people. Data on the actual number of fatalities is hard to come by, but hippos are dangerous. Having said that, car accidents are responsible for many more deaths than hippos, but not all of them involve cows.

September 4, 2011 at 7:48 pm
(3) Dawson says:

hippos are so badass like XD

November 10, 2013 at 7:43 pm
(4) sarah says:

Hippos mostly kill locals, not tourists so it is rarely in international news. They become aggressive when a human stands between them (when they get out to graze at dusk) and the water. Even so, tourists do get killed by hippos – you can google examples.

April 1, 2014 at 5:48 am
(5) Mont says:

Hippo cool :D

April 1, 2014 at 6:02 am
(6) Wan Sam says:

Hip hop hippo

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