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When one first thinks of a hippopotamus we may look at it as a very clumsy individual. Beware of misconceptions! This 2 ton fellow can run at speeds that exceed 30 kph, and will charge you in no time if felt threatened. Hippos are highly territorial, and should be approached with care especially when dealing with old bulls or cows.
Believe it or not, but hippos are responsible for more deaths than any other mammals in Africa. Check its teeth out! The incisors can measure up to 1 m long.
To boat trippers and avid fishermen: think twice before getting too close to these “sea horses” of the African bush.
Quick and agile, meet Mr. Crocodile. Most rivers and lakes of Africa are infested with these prehistoric creatures. They are vicious, and will do almost anything to catch their prey. They have acute smell, excellent hearing, and with a flick of a tail can catapult themselves onto riverbanks to reach their potential meal.
Every year, the Nile crocodile is accountable for hundreds of human casualties around African villages and small towns.
There’s an entire myth around hyenas. People often see them as being evil creatures, and are sometimes associated with witchcraft in a variety of African countries. Personally, I find them quite fascinating.
What is for sure is that hyenas are very well organized and intelligent animals. They have impressive eyesight, great smell and impeccable hearing.
While hyenas are mainly nocturnal animals, they may be observed during daylight in protected areas. One of the best places to encounter them is the Serengeti National Park.
People mainly fear these strange creatures because of their loud shrieks, moans and weird laugh. Incredible to listen in the midst of the night.
Hyenas are mainly scavengers, but will hunt occasionally. They have the most powerful jaws, capable of cracking even the leg bones of a giraffe, or going through crocodile skin.
There are reports about people sleeping out in the bush without being cautious enough. Unfortunately, a few of them returned home losing parts of their faces after unfortunate encounters with hyenas.
Hyenas can become very bold when hungry, so a healthy fire is just indispensable when sleeping under the stars.
Being the largest land mammal on planet Earth, the African elephant is a marvelous animal. However, its colossal size means that it will go wherever it wants. Ever tried stopping an elephant? I wouldn’t even try!
Elephants can weigh up to six tons and require enormous amounts of fodder every single day. In fact, they will eat as much as 250 kg of vegetation, and can drink over 100 liters of water in a single go.
While these pachyderms are “relatively” harmless in national parks, once they step outside of reserves it’s another story. This is especially true when they meet local villagers or trespass fields. More often than none, this leads to fatal casualties. Both elephants and humans suffer the consequences.
Older bulls can also be problematic, primarily when they go through what’s called “musth”. During this “sexually active” time they become extremely unpredictable and aggressive. They’re also highly identifiable, as a thick liquid secretion comes out from the temporal glands on the sides of the head.
Take heed: an elephant charge is something you won’t forget!
African Wild Dog
One of my favourite animals! The wild dog is an endangered species built for the kill, which has the best “hit rate” out of all the main plains carnivores.
African hunting dogs hunt in packs, and will run after their prey until surrendered. Their killing strategy is somewhat cruel: they dismember it, alive!
Til this day I am yet to encounter painted hunting dogs in the wild. I am hoping to encounter them soon on my next African safari expedition. Fingers crossed! 🙂
The most feared and one of the most vicious snakes out of all the African species out there. Black mambas can strike at you with amazing precision, whether they feel vulnerable or not. They are extremely rapid, and usually go for the head by propelling themselves with their tail.
If not treated immediately, a black mamba bite can be lethal in as little as twenty minutes. A single bite is also potent enough to kill as many as 10-25 fully grown men. Ouch!
Did I mention black mambas could reach a length of up to 4.5 m? Yes, it’s a big snake!
The king of the jungle is just pure power, speed and agility. No need to say that an encounter with this 250 kg individual of muscle is very likely to end his way.
If you were to encounter a lion in the wild, don’t run. Sounds easy to say, I know, but by fleeing your chances of making it alive would be even slimmer.
Once you run away, you are seen as prey. Typically, male lions ‘bluff’ and will retreat nine times out of ten. Unless they’re really hungry…
Particularly dangerous when pursued or wounded. Avoid approaching old males in groups of 2 to 3 individuals. A buffalo will charge head-on, and is very difficult to stop at close range.
Large herds of buffalos (sometimes comprising hundreds of individuals) are more relaxed. The power of numbers gives them a clear advantage, so they usually don’t feel threatened as easily.
Mosquito bites are responsible for over one million human losses worldwide every year, and are accountable for one African child death every 30 seconds (according to Malaria No More).
The disease is transmitted by the anopheles, female mosquitoes that may cause malaria, yellow fever and dengue fever.
Honey badgers are fearless, display considerable aggression and have a convincing bite. They are incredible hunters, and will eat almost anything: insects, rodents, birds and even deadly snakes. Their loose skin enables them to escape predators trying to get hold of them.
These ferocious creatures will even attack humans, and have been known to bravely assault vehicles for no apparent reason.
Better left alone!