Yesterday I posted a photo of a pond on the Serengeti and mentioned that a couple of hippos were in the background. A number of people wrote me and asked to see some close-up pictures of these amazing animals. Also one commentor mentioned that he had heard that many native people had met their demise by hippos.
While watching some of these beautiful creatures, my guide had related some information on that subject. Hippos often move from one watering hole to another and often cross long distances by land to do so. In the water hippos feel safe and are delightfully contented with frolicking, grunting and sleeping. On land, however, they are especially nervous, vulnerable and irritable, especially when traversing with young, which are easy prey to large cats. Many a villager's presence, while bathing, doing laundry or fishing on a pond's edge, has inadvertantly blocked the access to the water for a migrating hippo. The animal goes absolutely bonkers when surprised and feels thwarted in its desire to return for a bath. Like with many animals, once an imagined opponent falls down on the ground, a more agressive instinct sets off and the victim is then kicked and bitten to death.
The top picture of a larger family was taken from the opening in the car's roof and through some bushes. As said earlier, it is incredibly poor judgment and not allowed to get out and go to the water's edge. I saw a number of huge crocodiles waiting patiently for anything that might casually happen by and it is certain they wouldn't be choosy about meeting a tourist.
I watched the animals in the second picture for quite a while. Like dogs often do, hippos look like they are fighting, but place their faces next to one another, nuzzle and grunt instead of biting. Sometimes they lie quietly for hours and suddenly, for no apparent reason, the pool comes alive with such play.
I included the third picture to remind myself that night on the Serengeti means a whole new set of circumstances and sounds which I hope to show tomorrow. Does anyone like cats?