Posted on May 14, 2021 35
The common hippopotamus is a cloven-hoofed animal that belongs to the hippopotamus family. Hippos prefer to live near freshwater reservoirs, where they spend most of their time, only occasionally leaving the water to forage. Hippos which means “river horse” in Greek. The name is very accurate, given the hippos’ attraction to water and the impressive size of these animals.
Hippos - one of the largest terrestrial animals, the weight of the adult male often exceeds three tons, some sources say that met and four-ton giants. Until about ten years of age, the weight of males and females differ little, but at a mature age, males begin to gain weight much faster. In the wild, the life span of a hippo rarely exceeds 40 years, but in captivity, with proper care, animals can live up to 60 years.
Currently, the wild hippopotamus can be found only in Africa, and their numbers have been declining in recent decades. Biologists estimate that the total number of animals does not exceed 150,000, a quarter of them live in Zambia. But on the territory of South Africa, wild hippos disappeared completely a few decades ago; they can be found only in the national park.
The main enemy of hippos is man. There are few animals that would risk attacking this giant. Sometimes lions and crocodiles dare to do it. But even these ferocious predators do not always defeat the hippopotamus, which looks lazy and clumsy. Crocodiles attack hippos in the water and lions on land.
The mouth of a hippopotamus can open almost 180 degrees, and in adult animals it reaches one and a half meters. The strength of the hippopotamus’ jaws is such that it can bite the spine of an adult crocodile. With such a vast mass, the animal needs up to 50 kilograms of food per day. The hippo’s main diet comprises grass. But, hippos can also eat meat from other animals.
In zoos, hippos appeared in the middle of the XIX century. The first animal was brought to the London Zoo on May 25, 1850. The delight of the townspeople had no limits: up to ten thousand people a day came to see such a miracle. Nowadays, hippos are successfully bred in captivity, but the maintenance of these animals is not cheap.
Since ancient times, people have hunted hippos for meat, hides, and bone. The meat, especially of a young animal, is delicious and tastes like veal. The tough hide, up to four centimeters thick, was often used by warriors for plating shields, and the bone is used to make souvenirs. Nowadays, given the dramatic decline in animal numbers, trade in hippopotamus bone is limited by strict quotas.
When a hippopotamus goes on land, its body quickly dehydrates, so it prefers to go out in search of food at night, when the heat subsides. In search of food, a hippo can cover up to ten kilometers, and with the onset of heat, they dive back into a body of water. Despite their impressive mass, hippos can reach speeds of up to thirty kilometers per hour over short distances.
For people, hippos can be very dangerous. They often settle next to his own fields, and in a short time can destroy a large part of the crops, since the appetite of these animals is very good. Hippos can be aggressive and may pounce on passing people. In the water, animals sometimes attack passing boats. This is most often done by females, fearing for their cubs. In the South Luangwa Park in Zambia, over 100 people are attacked by hippos every year.
Most hippos prefer not to leave their home reservoirs, so they suffer greatly in times of drought, when water levels drop rapidly. But even among these animals there are lovers of travel. For example, a female named Hubert for the three years from 1928 to 1931, decided on a desperate step - overcame 1,600 kilometers in southern Africa. And was shot by hunters, who were then sentenced to a fine of $25.
The head of the hippo is about a quarter of the animal. It turns out that the largest males can weigh up to one ton. And the mass of a hippo’s skin is about 500 kilograms. The largest terrestrial animal on Earth is the elephant, but for the second place compete with each other hippos and white rhinoceroses.