The Hippopotamus

The Mokolo river winds its leisurely way through the land that is called Kaingo game reserve. It is a beautiful river in so much that the system has not been compromised by development and alien plant species.
Most of the original endemic fish and animal species can still be found within the system. Crocodile and catfish are the top-level predators within this system. Along with our arch-nemesis, the alien Black Bass.
Recently we have introduced hippo into the conservation stratagem of Kaingo.
‘What”, you may ask, “do hippo bring to the conservation table?”
Apart from the fact that they were a feature of the Waterberg for millennia before becoming almost extinct locally, they are vital for the health of any river system.
A hippo cannot swim…
Sounds crazy that a semi-aquatic animal that spends most of its time inside the wet stuff is not able to traverse large, deep expanses of water without drowning, doesn’t it?
Hippo ‘walks’ underwater. Their locomotion is more of a gait than a full walk. They have a rather large lung capacity to allow them to keep their breath for more that five minutes! I can verify that as fact!
This continued walking on the river’s bottom creates cleared paths that water can freely flow through. It controls reedbeds, preventing their river from choking up on reeds. They are great nutrient vectors: they defecate and urinate inside the water, serving as a conveyer of nutrients to the river system.
And then there is the human, tourist factor. Even though hippo is regarded as one of the most dangerous larger animal species in Africa, most people just seem to like them.
They have goofy smiles, ogre ears and how about that double-barrel body! They look like something a five-year-old might have drawn in a fit of creative inspiration… and then it became real.
Jip! We love hippo!

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