Sunday, April 08, 2007

Club Hippos - Allive and well

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The Greater St. Lucia Wetlands Park
kwaZulu Natal South Africa

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St. Lucia Ski Boat Club

They are doing well. Responsible for loads of entertainment, this pod of Hippo has gripped the heart of many visitors. The dominant male, Vincent, has father quite a few cute and cuddly off spring in the presence of large numbers of spectators. He was also responsible for some dramatic sciences when he defended his territory against younger bulls attempting to invade the pod and their cows.


One such dramatic horror science was the day he half killed a younger male and the male, in his attempt to flee the science, endangered the lives of human bystanders. Badly mauled and crippled, staff of KZN Wildlife had no other choice than to destroy the poor animal. Many encounters with crocodiles, also made this pod world famous.

At one such encounter a crocodile has passed mysteriously. This prehistoric descendant could have been killed by hippo because they had a newly born addition to the pod. It could also be that the reptile starved, since the mouth where closed for so long and food became very scarce, or the poor creature could have fallen victim to its own hunger and fed on an anxious anglers bait and got fatally hurt by swallowing the trace. What ever the circumstances surrounding this death, it lead to hours of dramatic encounters between feeding frenzy crocodiles attempting to cannibalize the corpse and the pod of hippo protecting the corpse.

Their attentions with the dead crocodile was not clear but it seems more as if they wanted to resuscitate the dead rival than claim its body has spoils of a fight. Hippo have been documented saving other animals against crocodile attacks.

Many sad moments where also experienced when one or two of the pod's babies mysteriously passed and the opportunistic crocodiles attempted to feed on the fatty tender meat of the corpses. It was heart breaking to see the cow protecting and fending the lifeless body against this slender death machines.

It is great to know that the pod has survived to ordeal of the tidal surge and can still be seen sun bathing on the remainder of the sand bar in front of the ski-boat club during low tide every day. Their newest addition from December still doing well.

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