The intricate papyrus-lined waterways of the Okavango Delta provide the ideal habitat for water dwelling creatures. You’ll notice colossal hippos wading gently through the crystal Delta waters or basking in the sun on the banks of the channels. They emerge at night and forage on land under the dark pristine night skies. Seeing hippos in the Delta is one of the highlights of being based in the area. To get to Xobega Island camp you have to navigate the waterways, which means there’s no shortage of hippo sightings en route.
While guests were enjoying a leisurely boat cruise, weaving in and out of the maze of waterways, two hippos decided to put on a show. They began to mate, creating quite ripple while in the water. Watching hippos mate is pure entertainment. Bulls don’t possess the charming skills and courtship antics of other wildlife, but literally go straight in for the “kill”. They cruise through the pod, locate a female in oestrus and chase her into the water to begin the mating process. There’s plenty of snapping from his side she should not comply directly to his over enthusiastic commands.
Guests on the boat were delighted to see the bull mounting the female, despite it being a rather arduous affair. It’s quite tricky to differentiate between sexes, but males are normally larger than their female counterparts. Males practice a harem system, which means the dominant bull protects the territory housing pods of females and their young. Generally obstinate and moody, bulls don’t tolerate one another because there is too much testosterone and competition for females.
When a cow produces a calf, they are born into shallow water. This means that the calf won’t have to struggle to wade/swim in deeper waters and breathing is easier. Calves will suckle underwater by blocking their nostrils and ears, which prevents them from drowning.
Both mother and calf will estrange themselves for a while in order to create lifelong bonds. Here’s hoping this female will become pregnant and continue to populate the delicate Delta waters with hippo.