Hippos spent most of their time in the water, we all know that. Coming out to dry land at nighttime to graze on grass and other succulent plants, before disappearing into their wet habitat before sunrise, leaving only footprints and piles behind. That was my personal opinion before arriving at South Luangwa National Park.
Nowhere else have I seen so many hippos out off water during daytime then here.
I often scared a resting hippo off, driving around the corner. Sorry. There could be a number of reasons for that. Even though hippos had been heavily hunted and poached in the 1970’s, they seem rather used to humans around them.
They have recovered so well, that an estimated 40 hippos per square km line the shores of the Luangwa River.
They populate all possible lagoons here as well, until the water evaporates completely, giving them no choice to find another wet environment.
Up in the Nsefu sector, a small herd was making the most off their muddy lagoon. They might have to move on as well until the wet season fills their pool again.
Hippos in high water lagoons kept a good eye out on the neighbours, but even that wasn’t too exciting it appears.
Another interesting fact was their adaptation to their environment. The Luangwa River is fast flowing in some places.
Washed out trees give aqua dynamic shelter from this current.
Or a Hyde out.
Where there’s none, a larger hippo creates a water flowing channel, for the weaker and smaller to take cover.
Sharing the river with Nile crocodiles and passing elephants doesn’t seem to worry them too much.
Despite a bad-tempered reputation, the hippos here seem rather relaxed. With raging flood waters in the rainy season, hippos stay put and dodge the torrent waters.
Hippos are with good reason in Africa’s so-called ‘Top 5’, the most dangerous animal to humankind.
In that category slips the African water buffalo as well.
A powerful heavy (up to one ton) pure muscled beast with an iron skull flanked by impressive strong horns. Imagine that running towards you at full speed. If the whole herd comes towards you, then there is no escape.
These were my thoughts when I saw that huge herd slowly moving towards me. But none of that ever happened.
In fact, quite the opposite. Again, it is important to read their body language.
All the ones I have seen were more curious about the oversized zebra, I believe. Buffalo have fairly bad eyesight and depend on their sense of smell.
The herds in the Mfuwe sector were rather small, and fortunately far enough from the road.
The odd individual was spotted here and there, mainly in dense bushland.
There were so many hippos and buffalos for my camera to take photos of in this park.