This is it, the most lethal animal in Africa apart from the mosquito. Hippos are very territorial and will defend their territory with force. Problem is that they’re often below the water’s surface where you can’t see them.
When locals use their narrow mokoros (basically a dug out trunk of a large straight tree) on the rivers, they sometimes accidentally paddle right over one which may trigger an aggressive response from the hippo. These mokoros are not very stable, so whoever is in one will fall out and humans are no match for a hippo. Actually, humans are no match for almost all animals, but that’s a whole different topic. Even Michael Phelps will not get away from a raging hippo. In one case in Niger, a boat was capsized by a hippo and 13 people were killed. But enough about their killing potential, after all I’m not Discovery Channel.
Hippos are fascinating creatures because they spend their days mostly in the water and their nights on land. They may look clumsy out of the water, but make no mistake: they’re lightning fast: 30-40 km/h (19-25mph). I prefer to photograph them when they’re in the water, because that’s where they’re most relaxed and they simply look much better there.
This image was shot on our Beyond The Great Rivers photo tour in Zambia. We were in a small boat (no, not like a mokoro) that enabled us to get a very low angle, close to the water. We were at a fair distance away as to not to disturb them and simply waited for whatever would happen.
Hippos can be pretty nasty towards each other, which results in the occasional violent outburst with wide open mouths, water splashing and loud sounds. This is one such outburst. Not sure what triggered it exactly, but it made for a few good shots. The light wasn’t too shabby either :-)
Marsel | squiver.com