June 16, 2011

The Baby Hippopotamus

The Young Hippopotamus


Hippo
FACT FILE:
Swahili Name:  Kiboko
Scientific Name:            Hippopotamus amphibius
Size:     13 feet long and 5 feet tall
Weight: Up to 31/2 tons
Lifespan:           50 years
Habitat:            Rivers, swamps and protected areas
Diet:     Herbivorous
Gestation:         About 240 days
Predators:         Humans, lions, crocodiles
The hippopotamus one of the world’s most dangerous animals in Africa is respected by all those people living within the Hippopotamus habitat. This endangered animals whose hide alone can weigh half a ton, is the third-largest living land mammal. The Hippopotamus just like any animal of the African Savannah is a little bit smaller after elephants and white rhinos.  This endangered hippopotamus was once considered a female deity of pregnancy in ancient Egypt. The hippopotamus in Egypt has decreased and only a few hippopotamus population are sported along the Great Nile River where the Nile crocodiles share the same natural habitat as the African Hippopotamus. Despite the fact that these giant animals of the African Savannah south of the Sahara Desert are considered as endangered animals, the hippopotamus population still continues to grow in many protected national parks and game reserves of many African countries., but in modern times has been wiped out of that country because of the damage it inflicts on crops. The hippo continues to thrive in other parts of Africa.

Physical Characteristics
The hippo's proportions reflect its sedentary, amphibious existence. Its plump and bulky body is set on short, stumpy legs, with each foot having four toes. Although webbed, the toes splay enough to distribute the weight evenly over each toe and therefore adequately support the hippo on land.

With very thick skin, especially over the back and rump, the grayish-brown body is almost completely hairless, with only a few bristles around the mouth and the tip of the tail. The hippo has neither sweat nor sebaceous glands but does have unique glands that produce a viscous red fluid, leading to the myth that hippos "sweat blood." The hippo relies on water or mud to keep it cool, and the red fluid may have a similar function, but it is often produced in copious amounts when the animal is excited.

Habitat
Two hippo species are found in Africa. The large hippo, found in East Africa, occurs south of the Sahara. This social, group-living mammal is so numerous in some areas that "cropping" schemes are used to control populations that have become larger than the habitat can sustain. The other, much smaller (440 to 605 pounds) species of hippo is the pygmy hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis). Limited to very restricted ranges in West Africa, it is a shy, solitary forest dweller, and now rare.

Behavior
The large hippo is an aggressive animal; old scars and fresh, deep wounds are signs of daily fights that are accompanied by much bellowing, neighing and snorting. Hippos have developed some ritualized postures the huge open-mouthed "yawn" that reveals formidable teeth is one of the most aggressive. With the long, razor-sharp incisors and tusklike canines, the hippo is well-armed and dangerous.

Hippos move easily in water, either swimming by kicking their hind legs or walking on the bottom. They are well-adapted to their aquatic life, with small ears, eyes and nostrils set at the top of the head. These senses are so keen that even submerged in water, the hippo is alert to its surroundings. By closing its ears and nostrils, the adult can stay under water for as long as six minutes.

Hippos have a flexible social system defined by hierarchy and by feed and water conditions. Usually they are found in mixed groups of about 15 individuals, but in periods of drought large numbers are forced to congregate near limited pools of water. This overcrowding disrupts the hierarchical system, resulting in even higher levels of aggression, with the oldest and strongest males most dominant. Hippos are unpredictable. If they are encountered away from the safety of water, anything that gets between them and their refuge may be bitten or trampled.

Diet
Amazingly agile for their bulk, hippos are good climbers and often traverse rather steep banks each night to graze on grass. They exit and enter the water at the same spots and graze for four to five hours each night in loop patterns, covering one or two miles, with extended forays up to five miles. Their modest appetites are due to their sedentary life, which does not require high outputs of energy.

Caring for the Young
A single young is born either on land or in shallow water. In water, the mother helps the newborn to the surface, later teaching it to swim. Newly born hippos are relatively small, weighing from 55 to 120 pounds, and are protected by their mothers, not only from crocodiles and lions but from male hippos that, oddly enough, do not bother them on land but attack them in water.

Young hippos can only stay under water for about half a minute, but adults can stay submerged up to six minutes. Young hippos can suckle under water by taking a deep breath, closing their nostrils and ears and wrapping their tongue tightly around the teat to suck. This procedure must be instinctive, because newborns suckle the same way on land. A young hippo begins to eat grass at 3 weeks, but its mother continues to suckle it for about a year. Newborns often climb on their mothers' backs to rest.

Predators
Compared to other animals, hippos are not very susceptible to disease, so in suitable habitats, their numbers can increase quickly. Their chief predators are people, who may hunt hippos for their meat, hides and ivory teeth.

Did you know?
The name hippopotamus comes from the Greek "hippos," meaning horse, these animals were once called "river horses." But the hippo is more closely related to the pig than the horse.
Hippos spend most of their day in water close to shore lying on their bellies. In areas undisturbed by people, hippos lie on the shore in the morning sun.





Between April and October, when the equatorial rains bring on the luxuriant African vegetation, the female hipipopotamus has an abundant supply of food enabling her to produce milk rich in protein for her new-born baby. As her offspring, weighing more than fifty kilogrammes, is born under water however, his first requirement is to surface immediately in order to breathe. Lying on her side, the mother then allows him to suckle, hi~ substantial meal. She takes him gently in her mouth river bank where she licks him all over and caresse with her muzzle. Like all animal offspring at birth, immune to fear. Look at him here. Where would yo a more peaceful creature? young hippopotamus suckles first from one teat and then n another while under water; his nostrils are closed and the s of his cars folded back.



Young hippopotamus is attracted by the sight of fledgling cans thrusting their heads into their mothers’ large bills to I. He seems to he saying, ‘Haven’t you got anything for me?’

teach her offspring to swim the tier carries him about in the water her shoulders; then she disappears underthe water pretending to abandon and ignoring his cries for help.graduually he learns to swim and to see bobbing about like a cork is a very y sight. Now a confident swimmer, ins his mother in the water and she joins him the underwater plants on which she can feed

Twin births among hippopotamuses are very rare. Occasionally a female is seen with two young, but this usually signifies one new-born and one older offspring that is not yet self-sufficient.

The month-old hippopotamus is inquisitive. He sometimes approaches the river which is infested with crocodiles. His mother will teach him a lesson with a smart blow on the head.


The Dangerous Hippopotamus Africa's sea horse
Hippopotamuses or the "river horse” are the third-largest living land animals after the African elephants and the white rhinos. Being herbivore mammals and with an average life span in the wild of up to 40 years and weighing about 4000kgs, the dangerous Hippopotamus population is decreasing as the number of hippopotamus attacks also keep on decreasing as many of the hippopotamus in Africa are located in the farming regions and many of the African lakes and rivers where the local people come to some of the lakes and rivers to collect water, irrigate their land and also become victim of circumstances while traveling in these treacherous infested hippopotamus and crocodile waters

The Hippopotamus natural habitat
Most of the  hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius), or hippo, from the ancient Greek for "river horse" are mostly found in sub-Saharan Africa in courtiers such as, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, South Africa, Gabon, , Kenya, Lesotho, Namibia, , Rwanda while the Pygmy Hippopotamus is mostly found in the west coast of Africa mostly Côte d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau. Liberia, Nigeria, Niger, Réunion, where most of the animal or hippo attacks take place. The amazing this is that all hippopotamus will graze in the same are and look for food miles away and way back to their resting ground.


The natural vegetation found in water and on river beds in Africa where these dangerous water and land animal are found are bred can be a killing ground as these giant hippos with their aggressiveness can come out when people or other dangerous animals encroach into their territory or when they find themselves victims in places where the Hippos are foraging during their nocturnal rounds in any given locality.

The dangerous Hippopotamus are good swimmers
These four webbed toes dangerous sea horses spend up to 16 hours a day submerged in rivers and lakes under the company of other dangerous animals such as the African Nile crocodiles, the African elephant when it comes to take a swim to keep their massive bodies cool after grazing in the beautiful African savannah grassland on a hot day.


Many of the hippopotamus dangerous attacks take place in the rivers and lakes of Africa because hippopotamus are very good swimmers. The Hippos can hold their breath underwater for about 5 minutes. These giant hippopotamus  attack or capsize many boats and canoes when the stand or walk on the floor of many lakes or rivers.


With death role of around 200, they have been known to kill other animals and many people mostly farmers and nomads on dry land who move from one place to another in search of greener pastures and water thereby falling pray to this huge dangerous wild animal which is one of the biggest land animals.

Hippos the great animal attack runners
While foraging for food at night these dangerous hippopotamus  travel 6 miles (10 kilometers) in a night, along single-file pathways, to consume some 80 pounds (35 kilograms) of grass. And if you are lucky enough to meet them on their habitat, running for your life is the only option otherwise you will end up being attacked by the hippopotamus despite the fact that hippos can match a human's speed for short distances
And when they are threatened on land these massive dangerous hippos may run for the water and take cover. These natural born killer animals though they are herbivorous, attacking a human being for them is just like another intruder in their natural habitat

For the continuation of the African hippopotamus species, the male hippopotamus always pose a threat to young or new born baby hippopotamus. The female hippopotamus with its giant size mouth and teeth will always attack the male hippos that wander or swim too close to the baby hippo. The clash of the hippos will only end if the male hippo lies down and acts submissively to show that he means no harm to the hippo family.

Are the hippopotamus going to be extinct, well these beautiful hippopotamus once thrived   and were greatly feared when they roamed the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. With the decline of enough and fresh water for the African hippopotamus for wallowing, cooling off and plenty of lash grass for grazing not many hippopotamus are remaining in the world. With little data or hippopotamus information in many countries where they are found, many of the hippopotamus attacks are also not recorded. Unless the endless hunting of these African hippopotamus end just because they have crosses the farmers line of income for his subsistence crops and for the hippos  meat and teeth  their habitat has dwindled only to remain in protected areas.

By proper animal communication information and education, many animal and dangerous hippo attacks can be reduces and as a spill over effect while  saving Nile hippopotamus habitat, we protect these dangerous hippopotamus and many other animals of Africa as well.



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