NAIROBI PARK DIARY

The water beasts

What a great and unusual sighting to see such a 'surprise guest' in the forest

In Summary

• Hippo in the bush looks at me with an almost smiley bemused expression

Hippo look
Hippo look
Image: GARETH JONES

It was early in the morning as I drove though the Langata forest on a chilly, dull overcast day. Suddenly a huge shape appeared in an open area on my left. It was a hippo lying down, resting, no doubt after a night of feasting on the lush green forest grasses due to the recent good rains.

The hippo lay still for a few minutes, then stood up as another vehicle passed next to me, looking at me with an almost smiley bemused expression. The huge hulk of a hippo slowly turned and retreated into a thicker bush.

Wow! What a great and unusual sighting to see such a “surprise guest” in the forest. I thought for a moment of how ironic it was that the hippo appeared to be “smiling”  as a “hippo on the go”, while in fact, it is a very dangerous animal.

Nairobi Park has hippo in various dams and on the Mbagathi River. If people sometimes sit quietly at a dam where hippo are present, they often start to perform as they cavort in the water. Sometimes small babies can also be seen.

Hippos have a nasty reputation in Africa of being the mammal that on average kills the most people every year. This is mostly because of their aggressive nature when they are out of the water feeding, while people are collecting water in the early morning or late afternoons. The situation has become particularly tense in some parts of Africa as human populations increase and water resourses decrease.

 A visit to the Hippo pools in the park is a worthwhile and rewarding experience. There is much to see there, including birds, monkeys and other species, but please do not venture alone, or especially in the early mornings and late afternoon. During preferred safer hours, armed rangers will escort you.

For more information please link to the following websites  www.kws.go.ke