The Idyll of Lake Manyara Hippos | Wild Animals

The Idyll of Lake Manyara Hippos | Wild Animals


If I had to choose a place to be in Africa, this is it. I’m in Tanzania, in the Manyara lake national park, a little big park that covers an area of 95 square miles. And that includes 80 square miles of water. Most of the Rift rivers flow into this lake. More than 300 species of birds flock to this zone, most of them looking for food or places to build their nests. There are many other animals in Manyara, as well as the thousands of birds. Those shapes sticking out of the water aren’t rocks. They’re hippopotami enjoying themselves in wide stretch of the Simba River, a place known as the hippo pool. Since they’re very sensitive to the sun and have no sunscreen, they submerge themselves in the water, especially at midday. The hippopotami have an amphibian lifestyle. Some birds take advantage of these floating islands to go for a ride and have a snack or a drink on the way. Their eyes and ears stick up out of the water when they are submerged so they can be alert to all around them. Under their big imposing noses, their wide mouths are ideal for grazing on the grasses growing in the meadows around the lake. They keep their mouths open, but they’ve got a good reason. Among the hippopotami, being a “bigmouth” is well thought of. It’s all about comparing the sizes of their jaws, since a hippo’s jaws are what establish its position on the social scale. So the bigger your mouth, the higher your social status. Their large eyeteeth also play an important role in the struggles and rituals within the social group. It’s better to do no more than to intimidate your neighbor, because fights between hippos can be terrible. Not long ago, people from all over the world used to come to this paradise to hunt the animals, including Hemingway. It’s good to know that things have changed.

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