The world’s largest population of hippos live in the Luangwa Valley in Zambia, Africa. They love the water, which is why they are so abundant in the Luangwa Valley. The Luangwa River is one of the biggest unaltered rivers in southern Africa.
Hippopotamus amphibius need water deep enough to cover them. Their thin, naked skin is vulnerable to overheating and dehydration; they submerge to protect their skin and stay cool. Their eyes, ears, and nostrils are positioned high in the skull so that they can remain submerged for long periods.
Usually one sees wild hippos in the water. But they are semiaquatic mammals, meaning they live in both water and on land. Their diet is grass, so they also require pasture areas not far from water. They graze for about five hours, then return to water beds to spend the day digesting and socializing.
We found this handsome hippo one morning at dawn, while heading out in the jeep. It was unusual to see him resting in sand, but he still found a shady, cool spot. He was fine with us interrupting his rest, as long as we stayed in the vehicle. And we were fine with him glaring at us, as long as he didn’t charge. I love it when we all get along.
Photo credit: Athena Alexander