Photographer's Note

The hippopotamus ("horse of river") or hippo is a large, mostly plant-eating mammal in sub-Saharan Africa.

The hippopotamus is semi-aquatic, inhabiting rivers and lakes where territorial bulls preside over a stretch of river and groups of 5 to 30 females and young. During the day they remain cool by staying in the water or mud; reproduction and childbirth both occur in water. They emerge at dusk to graze on grass. While hippopotamuses rest near each other in the water, grazing is a solitary activity and hippos are not territorial on land.

Adult hippos typically resurface to breathe every 3–5 minutes. The young have to breathe every two to three minutes. The process of surfacing and breathing is automatic, and even a hippo sleeping underwater will rise and breathe without waking. A hippo closes its nostrils when it submerges.

Despite their physical resemblance to pigs and other terrestrial even-toed ungulates, their closest living relatives are whales. The common ancestor of whales and hippos split from other even-toed ungulates around 60 million years ago. The earliest known hippopotamus fossils, belonging to the genus Kenyapotamus in Africa, date to around 16 million years ago.

It is the third-largest land mammal by weight (between 1½ and 3½ tons), behind the white rhinoceros (1½ to 4 tons) and elephants (3 to 7 tons). Despite its stocky shape and short legs, it can easily outrun a human. Hippos have been clocked at 29 km/h over short distances. Their specific gravity allows them to sink and walk or run along the bottom of a river. The hippopotamus is one of the most aggressive creatures in the world and is often regarded as the most ferocious animal in Africa.

There are an estimated 125,000 to 150,000 hippos throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. They are still threatened by habitat loss and poaching for their meat and ivory canine teeth.


I took this picture in Okavango Delta in Botswana. Although we were on a boat about 50m to the hippo, it must have felt under threat, that's why it opened its mouth completely.

Cropped, increased sharpness.

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Additional Photos by Erdem Kutukoglu (Suppiluliuma) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 266 W: 105 N: 604] (3931)
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