Hippopotamus – Hippopotamus

1.6 ton (1.5 tonne) + 48 km/h (30 mph) = what do you think?

The hippopotamus, often simply called a hippo, is a fascinating and unique creature inhabiting sub-Saharan Africa’s waterways. Known for their colossal size, hippos are the third-largest living land mammals after elephants and white rhinos. Despite their bulky appearance and terrestrial mammal classification, hippos share a closer genetic kinship with cetaceans (whales and dolphins) than with any terrestrial mammal, a remarkable fact that highlights the diverse evolutionary paths within the animal kingdom.

Hippos are easily recognizable by their massive, nearly hairless bodies except for some sparse bristles on their tail and ears. Their legs are short and sturdy, resembling pillars capable of supporting their enormous weight. One of the most distinctive features of hippos is the placement of their eyes, nostrils, and ears high on the top of their heads. This adaptation allows them to submerge most of their body underwater while still being able to breathe and stay alert for predators or threats.

Semi-aquatic by nature, hippos spend a significant portion of their time in water bodies such as rivers, lakes, and swamps. The water serves multiple purposes for them; it helps to keep their massive bodies cool under the hot African sun and provides a refuge from predators. Despite their heavy frame, hippos are adept swimmers and can hold their breath underwater for up to five minutes. They are most active at night when they leave the water to graze on grasslands. Hippos are herbivores, and their diet mainly consists of grass. They can travel significant distances—up to several kilometers—searching for food.

Hippos’ reliance on freshwater habitats directly conflicts with humans, especially in regions where water resources are increasingly scarce. Competition for water for agriculture, drinking, and other uses has led to habitat loss and increased human-hippo conflicts. Additionally, their need for considerable amounts of fresh water and grazing land makes them vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and human expansion.