tirsdag 28. oktober 2014


Pavarotti !!!

Katavi NP in western Tanzania offers one of the most spectacular hippo sightings I have ever experienced (as for crocs & lions too !). In the wet season this ancient super lake develops into a huge wetland and of course it`s hippo`s & croc`s paradise, … and non accessible for humans. In the dry season however it will be the opposite : a dry, flat savannah with only one single source of water : a limited area where small amounts of water trickles up from the ground in thin layers. All bigger mammals of this ecosystem have to come and drink here … sooner or later, and the Katavi lions have a really good time in this period. In the dry season approx 3000 hippos congregate around the water source and sleep their days off in dense groups in the only water or thin layers of mud that is accessible  … as they are awaiting the dark of night to go out grazing. Especially late evenings when they prepare to go out and early mornings as they return to the mud pool give many situations when males compete over position in the pool & over females. Dominant males can fight terrible battles with severe injuries or even fatal outcome for one or both of them !! 

Hippos can walk 40 km at night (20 km out & 20 back), so you never know where you can expect to meet one. On dry land hippos can be extremely dangerous and they cause many humans fatalities every year. Especially females with calf are dynamite !! I have been attacked by such a female on dry land and I know what it feels like. Really, really scary stuff !!!

I have now visited Katavi NP 3 times … and I know I will have to go back again one of those days. Thanks to Manie Uys & Apollo Ambilikile for great company & great guiding ! 

Late evening yawn


A dominant male in the pool

Positioning is a key question

The teeth in the lower jaw grow continuously all their life. This tooth has penetrated the upper lip, and it must have been painful !! Their environment is not exactly antiseptic !

The hippo spends his day in a stinking solution of water, pooh, urine & the juice of his rotting dead mates. They also drink this liquid as it is their only source of water in the dry season.

Mother with newborn calf. I have never witnessed this so close, neither before nor after. 

Newborn calf & and a very protective mother

The first stage of a hippo attack : the hippo comes forth with open jaws as a showoff ! 
This one is in fact coming for me !!

The second stage of the attack is super fast with closed jaws. I was unpleasantly surprised to experience how fast and easy these animals can run. This one is attacking a lion.

Hippo - male lion interaction

Lions can kill adult hippos, but it would take the whole pride to do it, not only a single female lion. 
The huge wound on the left shoulder is probably caused by another hippo in a fight.

A lousy picture, but it shows oxpeckers cleaning the wound. Looks painful doesn`t it ?

A young male lion is standing guard over a rotten, smelly hippo carcass.

The same carcass two days later

Young male lions are often expelled from the pride and have to manage on their own. They are unexperienced hunters and they often have to eat carcasses. 

A dead hippo in the pool smells truly awful, but the other hippos don`t seem to care to much. 
Check the tooth of the hippo behind to the right, behind the marabou stork !

The remains of a male fighter 

2 kommentarer:

  1. En flott dokumentasjon på flodhestens liv i et, for de fleste av kanskje, miljø som det synes merkelig å leve i uten en overflod av sykdommer! Å ligge i en suppe av åpne sår, avføring, urin og råtne kadaver, og likevel overleve, er ganske utrolig! Og man kan lure på hvor de henter hurtigheten fra, så diger og klumsete de virker. Om jeg kalte slangen for vakker, vil jeg nok bruke et annet ord på denne her! :-) Kvaliteten på bildene dine, Tom, er som vanlig i de proffes rekker, du burde samle dem i ei bok! Jeg bestiller gjerne første utgave! :-)
    Klem fra Lillian

  2. Rått og usmika er det første som faller meg inn. Måten du presenterer dette på er profft og går rett hjem hos meg. Har sjøl vært i Kenya for fler år siden og opplevd flodhest. Dog ikke helt på denne måten,
    men kjenner igjen noe av atmosfæren, lukta og lydene. 1. klasses arbeid som vanlig.