Wildlife Spotlight

Feature | 28th April 2017

Wildlife spotlight: Fierce beasts or docile vegetarians? We explore the facts about hippos.

Greek for “water horse”, the hippopotamus has gained a reputation as one of the most dangerous animals in Africa. Is this correct, or have these water-loving mammals have been unfairly portrayed?

With a primarily vegetarian diet (they are known to eat some meat, such as impala), a human wouldn’t expect to be hunted down as prey by a hippopotamus. However, the world’s third-largest land mammal is extremely territorial and can understandably become aggressive when it feels threatened. Given their sharp teeth, sheer size (males average 3,300 lbs) and swiftness (both in and out of water), an aggressive hippopotamus is a fearful sight.

With their natural habitat under threat, hippos can be forced to forage among crops, and are known to trek miles overnight to find new food. This leads to encounters with farmers and fishermen, contributing to statistics that show hippos to be one of the top deadliest creatures to humans.

As we know, wild animals need to be treated with respect and caution. At Shambala Private Game Reserve our rangers are highly trained experts who have swathes of experience with the wild animals in the reserve. We aim to maintain an ideal ecosystem. With 24/7 monitoring and on-ground teams, our wildlife experts ensure both the animals are our guests share and enjoy the pleasures of the bush.

The hippos at Shambala enjoy life on the bounteous Douw Steyn Dam, the largest man-made dam in southern Africa. The hippos have acres of space available to them, and our rangers are fully aware of their territory. This means guests on safari at Shambala can safely spot hippos – one of the most fabulous wildlife sights in South Africa, and a memory that will stay with you forever.

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