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Hippopotamus, St Lucia Wetlands, South Africa.

Hippos and religion.

Photographed on the waterways of the St Lucia Wetland Park on the east coast of South Africa,  these were two of several hippopotamus that I saw whilst undertaking a boat trip together with about 30 or 40 other tourists.   The hippos were unconcerned by the presence of the boat (they probably get to see it every day).

Although apparently docile here,  hippos are reputedly the most dangerous animals in Africa killing and injuring more people than either lions or crocodiles.   I think there’s several reasons for this,  they can be very territorial and unpredictable,  despite their bulk they can also move surprisingly fast when alarmed or startled.   They have poor eyesight and when out of water and startled, they will run straight towards water and not sidestep anything or anybody,  so if you’re in their path you get trampled.

I suspect that it has a lot to do with human behaviour as well,  people may not recognize the danger hippos represent and put themselves in a position of risk.    Most people,  even those who are reckless with some subconscious Darwinian instinct to remove themselves from the gene pool,  recognize that lions and crocodiles are dangerous,  the claws,  the teeth,  it’s obvious even to a fool!    But hippos look friendly, maybe even cute and so don’t get the same level of respect.   I believe the situation is mirrored in North America where moose hurt as many,  or more,  people than grizzly bears do.  I suspect it’s the same issue of human behaviour,  I won’t go anywhere near a bear cause they’re dangerous,  but that moose looks fairly docile,  I might go over and try and pat him!   (Perhaps my US and Canadian friends can offer their insight on this)

Strange some of the other ideas people get.  Whilst I was on the boat I was approached by an older South African gentleman,  well spoken,  presumably well educated,  who overheard my Australian accent.   He said,  “I understand you’re from Australia.”    I said,  “Yes,  I am.”    He said,  “I’d like to ask a question if I may.   I was thinking of travelling to Australia but I’m concerned,  I’m told that there are no churches in Australia any more,  that they’ve all been closed down.   Is that correct?”     This man was absolutely serious,  I was incredulous!   My facial expression probably resembled one of these hippos.   I assured him that there are probably just as many churches in Australia today as there have ever been and there is no move to close any of them!

Animals are cool,  it’s the humans that are weird!

Hippopotamus mother and calf, St Lucia Wetlands, South Africa.

Canon 20D with 500mm lens at F8.0, shutter speed 1/1000 second at ISO 400.

One from the Hippo family album!    :-)  ~KD