Hippo Facts, Conservation and Hunting Opportunities
‘Hippopotamus’ is an ancient Greek word that means ‘river horse‘, but trying to ride one would be ill advised. Hippos are among the most aggressive animals on the planet, killing many people in Africa yearly. Related to whales, hippos spend the day in lakes and rivers, unlike all other large land mammals such as elephants and rhinos. They only require deep enough water for them to completely submerge and a good supply of grass. Hippos will leave the water at dusk to graze, and sometimes travel up to six miles in a night.
Hippos kill a lot of people in Africa.
They can be very territorial and aggressive, sometimes attacking boats, capsizing them and killing the passengers. When they are at their most dangerous however, is at night when they are out of the water.
They are evil monsters who attack us night and day. Because of them, we haven’t been fishing. I came with another fisherman to pick up the nets I had left when the hippopotamus upended our boat. My friend got away, but it bit into my left leg, then my right. It’s the second time I’ve been attacked.
Hippo hunting is not particularly difficult, but can be a fun add-on to your African Safari. The best countries to go to for hippo hunting safaris are Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Botswana. You can go to South Africa however unfortunately it is rather expensive compared to the other places, like hippo hunts in Mozambique. *Hippo hunts are almost always an add-on or a combo with crocs.
Hippo hunting is an adventure! You never know exactly how it’s going to go down. Sometimes you’re paddling in a canoe to close the distance or you might be stalking through the grass hunting a solitary old bull. You might even hunt out of a blind… and usually, you’ll be hunting crocs at the same time.
Hippo Shot Placement
Hippo’s are almost always found in the water, so most of the time the only option will be a headshot. The brain is very small, so make sure you’re rifle is “dead nuts” and know where to aim. Use big, solid bullets for hippos. A hippo shot in the water with a good brain shot will just sink out of sight, but the dead animal will float after a few hours due to the vegetation in its stomach producing enough gas to float the carcass. A missed brain shot will usually knock the animal out, and then you will need to take back shots as quickly as possible being careful not to wound another hippo.
- Headshot facing away – The best angle is when the animal is facing directly away from you, exposing the back of it’s head. Draw an imaginary line between the base of the ears, and shoot in the middle.
- Headshot quartering towards – Aim directly at the eye, angling the bullet through the brain. Always keep in mind where the brain is.
- Direct facing head shot – This shot is very difficult because of the heavy bone of the skull, but with a modern caliber of a sufficient size, you should be fine. Look at the aiming charts below.
- When out of the water a body shot can be used with a large caliber and solid bullets.
Field Judging Trophy Quality
Trophy hippos are determined by the size of their 12 tusks. The longest canine tusk length is the measurement recorded by the record books. As far as trophy assessment goes we are looking for a mature bull and hope for the best on its tusks. You can make an educated guess on the teeth size by evaluating the ‘pockets’ on the top of the hippos jaw. These can indicate tusks size. If time is available you can wait for it to open his mouth for a visual confirmation.
The fun is in the hunt, it can be equated to pig hunting in that the size of the trophy is not considered to be of the utmost importance. Any mature hippo is going to be a huge animal and a pleasure to hunt on a safari. Hippo are CITES II animals and are allowed to be imported into the USA.
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