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Battle scars

Battle scars
Photo Information
Copyright: Willem Botha (whjb) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 51 W: 26 N: 172] (683)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2006-07-27
Categories: Mammals
Camera: Olympus E-300, Sigma 55-200mm 1:4-5.6 DC, 55mm UV Filter
Exposure: f/7.1, 1/2000 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Mammals of Southern Africa II [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2007-01-17 13:14
Viewed: 6827
Points: 2
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius), from the Greek (hippopotamos, hippos meaning "horse" and potamos meaning "river"), is a large, plant-eating African mammal.

Hippopotamuses, also sometimes called hippos, are gregarious, living in groups of up to 40 animals, called a pod, herd, school or bloat. A male hippopotamus is known as bull, a female as cow, and a baby as calf. A hippo's lifespan is typically 40 to 50 years. Female hippos will reach sexual maturity at 5 to 6 years, and have a gestation period of 8 months.

Hippos average 3.5 metres (11 ft) long, 1.5 m (5 ft) tall at the shoulder, and weigh from 1500 kg to 3200 kg (3,300 to 7,000 lb). Females are smaller than their male counterparts, and normally weigh no more than 1500 kg. Even though they are bulky animals, hippopotamuses can run faster than a human on land. There are estimates of their running speed varying from 30 km/h (18 mph) to 40 km/h (25 mph), or even 50 km/h (30 mph). The hippo can maintain these higher estimates for only a few hundred metres or yards.

Adult hippos are not generally buoyant. When in deep water, they usually propel themselves by leaps, pushing off from the bottom. They move at speeds upto 8 km/h in water. Young hippos are buoyant and more often move by swimming, propelling themselves with kicks of their back legs. One hippo calf survived after being pushed out to sea during the tsunami generated by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and was rescued on a nearby island.

Baby hippos are born underwater at a weight between 25 and 45 kg (60−110 pounds) and must swim to the surface in order to take their first breath. The young often rest on their mothers' backs when in water that is too deep for them, and swim underwater in order to suckle.

Adult hippos typically resurface to breathe every 35 minutes. The young have to breathe every two to three minutes. The process of surfacing and breathing is automatic, and even a hippo sleeping underwater will rise and breathe without waking. Hippos have been documented staying submerged for up to thirty minutes. A hippo closes its nostrils when it submerges.

Adult hippos are extremely hostile toward crocodiles, which often live in the same pools and rivers as hippopotami. This is especially so when hippo calves are around. Hippos also seem to empathize with the prey of crocodiles and have been known to stand guard over dead and dying antelope on river banks. Hippos have been known to be very offensive towards humans and hold the title of the African mammal which kills the most humans.

To mark territory, hippos spin their tails while defecating to distribute their excrement over the greatest possible area.

This bull clearly have been in territorial fights with the scars to show for it. The longer hippos stay in the sun the pinker they become. This is due to a pinkish substance they secrete and which is a natural sun screen.

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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • loot Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
  • [2007-01-23 16:08]

Hi Willem

You are so right; this old bull has clearly seen his fair share of territorial fighting. Either he is a brave heart who repeatedly tried to gain dominance or he is a valiant defender of his domain and has fearlessly warded off many a challenger.

Your composition is great, showing this guy in his natural habitat on the river bed. The colours are well defined, the details are sharp, and the lighting was well controlled. This is especially good work when one considers the fact that it is a dark animal in a brightly lit surrounding so the camera would want to make the animal look darker. You have obviously done your meter reading on a very balanced (or average) spot with the result that one can see remarkable contrasts on the animal.

Very well done and TFS.

PS. I've also shot some nice photo of a bull outside the water on the H10, coming from Lower Sabie, about 500m from the T-junction at Tshokwane. I'll possibly still post that one later on.

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