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Africa Geographic Travel

Written by: Georgina Lockwood 

The young hippo that has been frolicking in the Ponta do Oura surf has not been seen since Valentine’s Day. The hippopotamus, christened Mr. Hippo by locals, has been causing a lot of commotion in the sleepy ocean town of Mozambique.

© Angie Gullan, Dolphin Encounters and Research Center
© Angie Gullan, Dolphin Encounters and Research Center

The hippo has disappeared without even a footprint according to the reserve guards from Reserva Marinha Parcial da Ponta do Ouro, who have been monitoring the animal’s progress.

Mozambique is no stranger to large aquatic mammals such as the endangered dugongs, but when a lonely and exhausted hippo turned up in the surf on the 10th of February it was a shock for local Angie Gullen, who was working on a dolphin documentary for the Dolphin Encounter and Research Center.

© Angie Gullan, Dolphin Encounters and Research Center
© Angie Gullan, Dolphin Encounters and Research Center
© Angie Gullan, Dolphin Encounters and Research Center
© Angie Gullan, Dolphin Encounters and Research Center

Gullen has been sending out regular updates via Facebook since Mr. Hippo arrived. According to her report, the hippo made his way to Ponta Mamoli, an area far more suited to hippos, and was thought to be moving north. Nic Vaughn Jones, a local philanthropist and old KwaZulu Natal Parks Board conservationist reported the animal had regained its strength.

© Angie Gullan, Dolphin Encounters and Research Center
© Angie Gullan, Dolphin Encounters and Research Center
© Angie Gullan, Dolphin Encounters and Research Center
© Angie Gullan, Dolphin Encounters and Research Center
© Angie Gullan, Dolphin Encounters and Research Center
© Angie Gullan, Dolphin Encounters and Research Center

To the dismay of residents, the animal seemed to be living up to the Afrikaans translation of its name, seekoei (sea cow) – as it was seen again on Malongane beach on the 13th of February.

© Angie Gullan, Dolphin Encounters and Research Center
© Angie Gullan, Dolphin Encounters and Research Center

The hippo’s presence has been a great cause of concern as the number of humans they kill in Africa is second only to that of another Mozambican resident: the female Anopheles mosquito. People have been advised to restrain from swimming in the bay, and there has been much worry about the hippo’s well-being – with fears it could be shot.

Hippos have been known to swim in the sea in Gabon. Fortunately for Mr. Hippo, he won’t be getting sunburnt as hippos produce a red oily secretion that acts as a sunblock.

© Angie Gullan, Dolphin Encounters and Research Center
© Angie Gullan, Dolphin Encounters and Research Center

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