21 October 2017

Tanzania: What Makes Hippos Attack People

FOR several days in June this year, the township of Nyahururu of Kenya was besieged by a large group of demonstrators who came into streets in protest of attacks by hippos.

They claimed that more than three people have been killed by hippos from River Ewaso Nyiro which passes near their neighborhood and enable these fast and furious big mammals to attack and kill people at anytime they feel like doing it.

As if that was not enough this week reports from Kilifi township also in Kenya indicate that several people have been killed by hippos forcing villagers to come into streets to ask for protection from authority against attacks by these mammals.

The hippo or a common hippopotamus is a large herbivorous which weigh between 1,300 and 1,500 and dwell in sub Saharan countries such as Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Africa and Tanzania which has one of the largest population of these mammals.

As the number of conflicts between animals and humans are on the rise, scientists are warning that the savannah is a delicate ecosystem with many endangered inhabitants who are facing man made challenges because of economic development and pride.

Every day the level of danger to almost every animal dwelling in the Savannah is increasing with some species like cheetah, elephant and rhinoceros are finding themselves on the brink of extinction.

Others like hippopotamus are retaliating through attacks to anybody getting closer in their environments. Scientists say these attacks may be results of non stopping con flicts between the smartest creature and the king of African water.

As this is happening, history tells as the pre-colonial Africa continent is believed to have a vast savannah grassland rich in flora and fauna but today most of these highly priced heritages have vanished completely because of poaching and deforestations.

Savannah grasslands of Africa harbor different spices of wild animals in great number than any geographical areas in the entire world.

On the other hand, few years ago many television viewers across the world saw a dangerous scenario from a news bulletin where a hungry hippo was fearfully chasing a motorboat which was carrying European tourists through one lakes in Africa.

Scientists say this action and other violent behavior from the modern hippo is a result of constant conflicts between humans and the king of wetland in Africa. Historians believe that in ancient days, the hippo was cool, shy and polite and obedient to nature which forced it to live around wetlands.

After coming under pressure from human activities which come with loss of habitat, drought and interference, the humble mammal of 50 million years ago has turned into a monster.

Scientists say what is happening to the hippo is part of long natural process called evolution, which can be defined as changes in heri table character of biological populations over successive generations.

It is a process which gives rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including the levels of species, individual organisms and molecules. Scientists say all life on Earth shares a common ancestor known as the last universal common ancestor which lived between 3.5 and 3.8 billion years ago.

Scientists say the evolution process in organisms occurs through changes in heritable traits, the inherited characteristics of an organism. Scientists continue to say the inherited traits are controlled by genes and the complete set of genes within an organism's genome is called its genotype.

The complete set of observable traits that make up the structure and behavior of an organism is called its phenotype, these characters come from the interaction of its genotype with the environment.

Hippopotamus is said to originate from an ancestor that roamed in savannah grasslands but moved into rivers and lakes of Africa about 20 million years ago.

In order to match with the climatic changes which happened during the Miocene, ancestors of modern hippopotamus went through different changes which enabled them to live in longer drought periods with high temperature.

About 18 million years ago, another great great grand parent of modern hippos is believed to have made the initial steps of adaptation from grassland to wetland.

From that time, ancient hippo gained ability to swim and live in the river by using a special mechanism called Graviportal which enable their heavy body to submerge in water and Specific gravity which deal with gravitational force.

Scientists say whales are closest relatives of hippos but they were separated more than 50 million years ago. Historians say it was during those days when ancestors of modern hippos grew webbed feet which enabled them to swim and make different move on the dry land.

Historians say the prehistoric hippos looked like modern pigs and they were not aggressive because after the adaptation they swam to Europe where the ancient Greeks gave the name which is still used until today.

Scientists say what is happening today in Babati, Mtowambu and Kilifi is the outcome of the real situation which the hippo is passing through.

Scientists say today the hippo is passing through a difficult period associated with human economic activities which dramatically have changed the humble and lazy looking mammal into a most dangerous animal in Africa.

News from Kilifi and Nyahururu is portraying this mammal as a killer in rampage, hippos are responsible for about 50 percent of every outrageous attacks which cause death to many farmers, tour guides and tourist in different lakes, swamps and rivers in Africa.

Scientists say the herbivorous mammal is now changing very fast into a carnivorous and cannibal which kill and eat his own brother and sisters. Scientists say they have observed two separate incidents where group of hippos were involved in eating a carcass of their fellow hippo while fighting with each other and some courageous crocodiles who dared to get closer to these killers.

Scientists say what was more unusual in this event the state of the carcass which had all signs of decomposing but the mammals which are believed to be an herbivorous didn't care and continue to feast on the body.

The carcass was believed to weigh more than 1,500 kilograms was consumed by other hippos and sent shocking waves to ecologists who think the second heaviest land animal is evolving into a deadly scavenger.

The above incident took place in Kruger National Park of South Africa but scientists say that there are some evidences of hippos changing their habits into predators.

In 1995 some of the hippos were seen snatching, killing and eating antelopes and primates who were coming to drink water from a pool in Hwange National Park of Zimbabwe.

This is not a thing to laugh about or ignore, it's a serious habitual changes which put people and other animals in danger because in a day a healthy hippo is capable of consuming about 50 kilograms of grasses.

No one knows what will happen when hippos evolved into a full scavenger and super predator which is capable of crushing into houses in villages to snatch people as their prey.

Scientists say it's possible we don't know much about hippos, samples of the dung collected from different game reserves and national parks in Africa including those in Tanzania have indicated that the mammal is turning into an omnivorous who are eating everything including flesh from his own relatives.

Tanzania and Zambia is believed to have the largest population of hippos which are endemic to Africa south of Sahara. Scientists asking all governments in Africa south of the Sahara to do something smart to stop the hippo from evolving into a scavenger or predator.

This is because, with an ability of running at a top speed of 45 kilometers per hour while armed with powerful jaws, it will be dangerous to live in townships like Babati which is located near lake Babati or Mtowambu near lake Manyara, Kilifi and Nyahururu in Kenya.


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