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Hippos and dramatic river disputes

Hippo in river in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

© Noelle van Muiden/Shenton Safaris

The dry season in South Luangwa in Zambia is always exciting when it comes to wildlife sightings. By the time October rolls around the Luangwa River is merely a stream in some places and sandbanks become plentiful, filled with crocodiles that used to hide so easily.

Hippo running through river in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

© Noelle van Muiden/Shenton Safaris

The hippos, which there are plenty, try to take advantage of the small pools that form in the deeper sections. This always causes tension, as what was once a massive river with room for everyone soon becomes a stomping ground for every hippo bull wanting their piece of the river.

Hippo charging through river in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

© Noelle van Muiden/Shenton Safaris

Nearing the end of a morning game drive, our guests came across one of these infamous disputes. Two male hippos were up on a sandbank pushing each other around.

The noise of the clash was tremendous as well as the grunting from all the other hippo spectators, in a way cheering them on.

Two hippos fighting in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

© Noelle van Muiden/Shenton Safaris

At first, both hippo bulls seemed evenly matched, but after a while you could see that the one male’s wounds were taking their toll. After 40 minutes of battle, the more injured male decided to retreat, causing him to give up his section of the river.

Two hippos fighting in river in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

© Noelle van Muiden/Shenton Safaris

For now, he will become a bit of an outcast, or at least until the rains return and fill the river again.

Although it can sometimes be a bittersweet encounter for a guest, it is an amazing sight to witness, particularly to capture some great photographs.

Two hippos fighting on sandbank in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

© Noelle van Muiden/Shenton Safaris

Shenton Safaris

Shenton Safaris ‘up-close and personal’ photographic hides are just one of the elements that make Kaingo Camp and Mwamba Bush Camp so special. Surrounded by spectacular game, these camps offer incredible game-viewing and bushwalking opportunities deep within South Luangwa National Park, Zambia.

Africa Geographic