Hippopotamus, By Lou Coetzer, Johannesburg, South Africa


Hippopotamus amphibius

Learn more about Hippopotamus amphibius from the Encyclopedia of Life

Encyclopedia of Life

Chobe National Park, Botswana
By Lou Coetzer
Johannesburg, South Africa

The hippopotamus can be found in the major rivers of Botswana—the Chobe, the Kwando-Linaynti, and the Okanvango—as well as in natural parks and wildlife refuges. The large, semi-aquatic animal weighs 3,000 to 4,000 pounds and spends most of the day keeping cool under the water, emerging to forage on shoreline grasses. Strongly territorial, the hippo can be found singly or in herds with as many as 30 individuals. Social groups center around the females and their offspring, while adult bulls aggressively defend their dominance. Male hippos fight intensely using their long canine teeth as weapons, and their hides are often covered with terrible battle scars.

“While traveling in a boat custom-built for photography, we could really get close to a large gathering of hippos. Young calves played nearby as the bulls sized each other up. This particular confrontation between two males turned violent.” —LC

Nikon D3; 600mm VR ƒ/4 lens at 1000mm; 1.7x tele-extender; 5/10000 sec at ƒ/8; ISO 1000.