They are by nature very aggressive, particularly when young calves are present.  Hippos commonly attack without apparent provocation. They are widely considered to be one of the most dangerous large animals in Africa – not so much in Canada!

While there are few confirmed attacks on humans and many rumoured – it would be unwise to assume that these animals are not dangerous. Hippos are large and powerful, and despite being herbivores, they have long, lethal teeth that are designed for battle. Hippos have been seen killing a large crocodile with a single bite.

This makes me wonder… how would a grizzly fair against an angry hippo? I think if it was a zombie angry hippo, the grizzly wouldn’t have a chance!


Late in the dry season, when water levels are low and food supplies are limited, hippos are more inclined to be aggressive. Vicious fights break out between rival males in their bid for suitable river space, and the dejected losers leave the river in shame.

They skulk under thickets during the day and are likely to attack if approached. One very dangerous aspect of hippo behaviour is their unpredictability.  When attacked – your only hope is to climb a tree, hide behind a termite mound or air evacuation!


Consider the following:

  • Stay in Canada,
  • If you’re in a canoe – allow hippos plenty of space,
  • Avoid rivers with lots of hippos,
  • Tap the side of the boat to signal your position – so hippos won’t inadvertently ram your boat,
  • Keep your distance when on foot,
  • Avoid thickets where hippos may be skulking,
  • Listen for “oxpecker” calls – it is a warning sign that there may be a hippo nearby,


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