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Hippo attack!

 
How to protect your family against being attacked by 'Africa's most dangerous animal'.
hippo with huge jaws
By Scott Dunlop

Pic: Shutterstock

Article originally in Parent24
Africa has plenty of interesting wildlife, some of which lives in wildlife reserves, but sometimes you and your family may come closer than expected to it. The hippopotamus may seem like a docile creature, but it is actually considered one of the the most dangerous animals in Africa. You may need to know how to protect your family should you come face to face with a hippo.

Know your hippo:


•    Hippos live in herds and may weigh up to 3, 500 kg each.
•    They live in wetlands and rivers, often spending the day semi-submerged, emerging at sunset to graze on land.
•    They are very aggressive, and are responsible for around 200 deaths annually.
•    Their weight, combined with powerful jaws and razor-sharp teeth makes them fearless when it comes to other animals (and humans).
•    The famous ‘hippo yawn’ is actually a threatening display gesture.
•    They are known for overturning canoes in rivers and charging people on land, and are able to match the speed of a human for short distances.
•    Hippos do occasionally stray into urban areas and gardens.

If you and your family are planning on travelling to hippo territory (or live nearby), here’s how you can avoid a closer encounter with this killer than you’d expected, according to DiscoverWildlife.com:

•    Make sure your children are aware of the dangers- hippos are not the jolly, docile creatures cartoons often make them out to be.
•    Never approach a hippo or try to provoke it. Steer clear of hippo-infested waters and hippo pathways on land.
•    Never swim in hippo territory.
•    Never come between a hippo and her calf, or a hippo and deep water, as you will probably be charged.
•    If you do get charged, seek cover behind a big tree or termite mound.
•    If in a canoe, pat the sides of the canoe so that any hippo will be aware of your presence, and less likely to emerge under the canoe.
•    Clapping or shouting will not discourage a hippo from charging.
•    Listen out for oxpeckers- the call of this bird may indicate the presence of hippos.

Just last night, my girlfriend's daughter sent her a message saying that there was a hippo outside her house in urban Cape Town, and she wanted to know what to do, so the possibility of a hippo encounter could be more likely than you'd expect! Keep the contact number of your local conservation office handy, just in case.

Were you aware that hippos are dangerous?

 

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