Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius)
Weighing between 1,300 and 3,200 kg, Hippopotamus inhabits the lower reaches of Uganda’s rivers and small lakes and spends the day in water emerging at night to feed on short grass swards. It is one of the most sought-after big animals on safari in Uganda.
They seldom move more than 3 km from water and visit previously-grazed floodplain sites where their feeding activities maintain ‘hippo lawns.’
Hippos have stumpy legs, splayed toes, and no protective hooves reflecting the amount of time spent in water, where their movement is facilitated by long supple back and kicking movements of the hind limbs. Water is used as a daytime refuge, and the ears and nostrils have muscular valves allowing submergence.
Hippos have a marked preference for deep backwaters rather than for fast-flowing reaches. They are gregarious during the day and form unstable groups of females and bachelors; mating takes place in water, and males fight fiercely over access to females. The massive aquatic mammals have thick skin devoid of sweat glands, and thus they depend on water to cool their bodies. They appear physiologically adapted to minimize energy expenditure and accumulate large amounts of fat.
This large, lumbering aquatic animal occurs naturally on most African lakes and waterways, where it spends most of the day submerged but emerges from the water to graze at night. Hippos are strongly territorial, with herds of ten or more animals being presided over by a dominant male.
However, hippos are still quite common outside of Uganda’s reserves, and they are responsible for killing more people than any other African mammal.