Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hippo Rush

Welcome to this, the first blog post at Africa Unlocked where you will get to share in some of our adventures.

Juvenile Hippo cuddling up to a companion

Even though Hippos are one of the largest land mammals around, the only parts of their bodies ever visible are their nostrils and ears sticking out of the water. They do at times lounge around on sandbanks during the day but during this time their inert bodies do not make for the most exciting viewing. . If you do not know when and where to look for them, you might be excused for considering them a bit of a disappointment. They emerge from the water at night to feed on the adjacent grass and re-enter the water early the next morning. That is the best time to view these behemoths in action and to capture some great images. Take note however that even though these animals look so immobile, they easily outrun humans, are very dangerous and should never be approached without an experienced guide present. Before the break of day we scampered down the Olifants river bank, cameras in hand, to the spot where we viewed them the day before.

After the Hippo caught our smell they made a mad dash for the safety of deeper water.

A slight embankment allowed a safe and close approach and with a slight wind in our faces knew that they wouldn’t smell us which would send them into the water. There were twelve of them with two youngsters present and the pod was frolicking in knee deep water. We all got into position and started getting our camera exposure right while we waited for the rising sun to filter though the huge Sycamore figs to cast its golden light onto our quarry. You can’t get everything right, every time and with everything set in place for stunning photographs, the Hippos caught smell of us and they started their dash to the safety of the water. Shutters started clicking over the noise of water rushing over two ton bodies and some amazing images were captured of these animals. Even though they reacted before the golden light painted them, the action photography of a few seconds had all of us excited and more than happy with wonderful and unusual images.

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