As an adult hippo, you have very little to fear from predators. But the situation for baby hippos is more hazardous! Being a baby hippo is a risky business, unless Mama is not far away. You have to admire the daring persistence of the leopard in this clip as it follows a mother hippo and a calf in The Luangwa Valley in Zambia. However, the mission is doomed to failure right from the start.
The Hazardous Lives of Baby Hippos
Baby hippos are called calves. The mothers are pregnant for about eight months and give birth to a single calf – this usually takes place during the rainy season. A hippo’s life is very connected with the water – they often mate and give birth there. Hippos make excellent mothers and are very protective of their calves. They even let them ride on their backs.
This calf will be fully weaned at around 18 months but may stay with their mom until they are eight years old. Female calves then find a group of females to hang around with and males live a solitary life.
Young hippos are in far more danger than their parents. They are a target for many predators including the leopard that we see here. At one point in the video, the leopard has managed to grasp hold of the calf’s rear limb in its mouth. The calf has no way to fight back and simply calls for its mother. All the mama hippo has to do is look at the leopard and it lets go immediately!
Other predators including crocodiles, lions and hyenas target young hippos. However, they also face danger from other hippos too.
Hippos Temperament and Predators
Hippos may look pretty laid back but they actually have a lot of attitude! Disputes arise between hippos over territory and they frequently attack other animals and humans. A combination of huge weight and sharp tusks make them a very dangerous animal.
A group could contain up to 100 animals and they do not always get on! When a disagreement arises, things can get violent and hippos can be very aggressive. A baby hippo that accidentally gets caught in between two adult hippos having a fight is very likely to get crushed. There have been occasions where mother hippos have killed their own calves in this way!
Watch a Cocky Hyena Bite a Hippo’s Eye
Watch a Hippo Chase a Boat With Shocking Speed and Strength
Watch a Leopard Accidentally Hunt a Hippo, and Return Later for a Meal
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