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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hippo Canabilism? (Okavango Delta, Botswana)

Last month at Jao Camp in the Okavango Delta there was a big ruckus in the middle of the night as two Hippo bulls dueled to the death. It's not uncommon for a territorial fight to end in the death of a hippo, but what is unusual was what we witnessed the following morning. (click image to enlarge)

We came across the victor practically in the camp before we saw the corpse of his vanquished rival on it's side in the shallow water. We watched as the hippo approached the corpse, circled it, and then tentatively chewed on it's front leg. Next, using the leg for leverage, it rolled the corpse over, and held it like that for a while. It didn't seem to be biting pieces off. In fact the behavior reminded me of elephants I have heard of trying to rouse their dead friends. See previous post here. I wondered if there was some kind of emotion there. I even wondered if there was regret. I seriously doubted it but I had never heard of or witnessed such behavior and neither had our guide. Before too long it lost interest and waded off.

I have spoken to a few people about what to make of this. Apparently it is not unheard of. Rob Moore of Lion Sands speculated that perhaps it was latent aggression from the night before. They are very aggressive animals and that dead hippo was still in the others territory. Hippos certainly are not normally carnivorous, but there are reports of hippos actually eating other animals or each other. These are probably cases of aberrant behavior. (for Carnivorous Hippo reports: click here.)

Whatever the cause it made for a fascinating safari experience. We spent two hours at the entrance to camp watching this scene and returned in the evening to see the eyes of the first few crocodiles who had found the corpse. The following day the corpse, already bloated and stinking, was towed a little further away from the camp. By now I am sure there is little left of it.

Note: a video of this scene will be added to this post in due course.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Debs, did you see this happen when you were there? If you did, then I really missed the trip of a lifetime - Damn Volcano!!!! That's the last time nature will prevent me from a ROAR Africa Safari! Good thing I'm going in November! xoxo Tripp

July 21, 2010 at 11:56 AM  
Blogger Safari Embassy said...

Thank you for given me very important information but Kruger National Park safari is Soo Beautiful place Enjoy & Excited tour, Amazing Picture! Okavango delta Safari in Botswana

August 12, 2016 at 8:32 AM  

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