Readers’ wildlife photographs

May 27, 2015 • 7:15 am

We have moar hippos today, this time from reader Richard Bond:

I am not sure that these hippo (Hippopotamus amphibius) photographs are up to Bob Lundgren’s standard (WEIT 23/05/15), but, after his and your encouragement, here they are anyway.

The first three were taken in the Masai Mara [Kenya]. We were standing on a bank above the Talek river (a small tributary of the Mara river of gnu migration fame) which forms part of the north-eastern border of the reserve. Hippos are susceptible to sunburn, so during the dry season they tend to spend most of the day under water. Typically, in a pool perhaps 25 x 10 metres, all we could see for about fifteen minutes was an occasional head surfacing for breath. Suddenly, two hippos had a row and 30-40 heads shot above the surface to see what was happening. I like the way in which the bottom left hippo in the third photograph is slyly inspecting us.




The fourth photo is not very good, and you might not want to use it, but there is a story behind it. We stopped right on the edge of a small lake in the Nairobi National Park, and a hippo surfaced some way out, looked at us, then submerged. For a minute or so we could see a slight trail of bubbles and small eddies on the surface heading our way, then the head popped up to stare at us again. This was repeated a few more times; it was quite eerie, and a bit intimidating in its purposeful approach. That is why the photo is rather poor: it was taken through the car windscreen, because I had no intention of getting out!


Most people on holiday visit Kenya in the dry season, when the most reliable way to see hippos out of the water is at Haller Park, just north of Mombasa. (Wikipedia has a good article about the history of this park.) The park has several functions, one of which is to provide a temporary or permanent home, as appropriate, for rescued animals. The male and female in photos 5 and 6 were “rescued” from zoos in Europe. While not in a totally natural environment (they cannot roam long distances) they seem do do well. They have about a ten hectare enclosure with a lake of nearly one hectare, and, of course, their natural climate. The park attracts plenty of other wildlife, and the handsome bird in the foreground of photo 6 is a grey crowned crane (Balearica regulorum gibbericeps).



I am somewhat confused about the subject of photo 7. At the time (April 2005) we were told by a park guide that she and her parents were victims of the 2004 tsunami, found on a beach after being washed down the Galana river. The parents could not be rescued. However, most of the online references mention a young male, found alone on a reef after the tsunami. I doubt that the guide was wrong; perhaps two were rescued, and the male gets all the attention because of his celebrated bonding with a giant tortoise. Anyway, one interesting thing is how pink she is compared with adults.


And a lagniappe cardinal from reader Jeremy Frost:

Here’s a picture of Cardinalis cardinalis, the Northern Cardinal. I took this outside my home in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. The little fella has made this particular spot his morning song perch. His volume is impressive (and somewhat grating!).



17 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photographs

  1. Richard, when it comes to photography I’m certainly not one to be setting standards.😊
    Really like your photos, particularly the standing hippos. Looks like there is some signifincant current in the water photos. Our pools were pretty stagnant.

    1. Bob, there was some flow through the pool. Although the Talek is a small river, this was not long after the end of the wet season, and there was still plenty of water in it. However, I think that the appearance of turbulent flow is mainly the residual swirling from 60 tonnes of hippo abruptly surfacing.

  2. I really enjoyed that; thanks, Richard and Jeremy.

    Though the rescued hippos can’t roam for great distances, the plus side is that they’ll always have water!

  3. Thanks for sharing, nice photos and stories. Looking at the rescue hippo photos two things struck me. 1) They have a pretty nice set up there. 2) Imagine travelers from afar, say Europe, coming across hippos for the first time standing in a glade like these pictures. What a bizarre and fascinating animal, they must have thought. Just exactly the stuff of myths, but in real life.

    1. Darrelle, I think that your first point is quite correct. Once it was decided that they would not be safe if released into the wild, Haller park was a pretty good approximation, and probably about as good as could be achieved.

  4. Great pictures! Hippos are amazing animals.

    I’ve known a few people over the years who lived in places where hippos are wild, and they all tell me that they are incredibly dangerous, killing more people per year than tigers or other scarier creatures.

    They all said ‘never ever get between them and the water’ — apparently they really don’t like it, freak out, and stampede for safety, crushing anything in their way. Yikes.

  5. Jeremy, wait until your Cardinal sees himself in a reflection from your bedroom window. Such a fuss you’ve never woken up to before. Not just threats but also full on body slams against the glass.

    1. Wow, I never knew that! There was another kind of bird that took a liking to its reflection in a garden mirror. Would stand near it all day, and sometimes flit at it.

    2. My wife and I have friends in Arkansas who have a male and female cardinal named Bonnie and Clyde who do the same glass crashing behavior. It’s hilarious to watch them. They never seem to tire of it. They’ve been doing it year after year. Doesn’t seem to do them any harm.

  6. Hip hippo hurray!

    I work in Hamilton and last week I saw a male cardinal trying to impress a lady cardinal by doing a dance and “pipping”. I imagined he was trying to convey, “look at me, I’m so pretty! See my well groomed feathers from this angle (jumps) this angle (jumps to show other side) and this angle (jumps again).”

  7. Thanks so much, Richard, for the sublime set of hippo pics! And IMO, the most interesting shots are those that come with a story, as yours do.

    Jeremy, that’s a beautiful cardinal shot–love the composition! Yes, they are certainly vociferous!

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