HIPPOS
Wildside Magazine|February 2020
The deep stentorian grunting and snorting of hippos as they connect, contest territory or press alarm in the mighty Zambezi River is a characteristic night sound at Chundu Island
MIKE CADMAN

Notwithstanding their colossal size (mature female hippos weigh upwards of 1300 kilograms and exceptionally large bulls tip the scales at more than 3000 kg) they are not one of the illustrious ‘big 5’. This term was originally coined by hunters to describe the 5 most difficult land animals to hunt.

Hippos spend much of the day submerged in the water with only their eyes, ears and nostrils visible, and disappear under the surface when threatened, but for no more than 5 minutes before they need to pop up for a breath. Babies can only manage about 30 seconds at a time without coming up for breath but have an intriguing ability to close their nostrils and ears and suckle underwater. Even a sleeping hippo surfaces to breathe every 3 minutes or so – without so much as waking up.

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