Framed by a hippo certainly is some situation you do not want to be involved in. Although they are a most remarkable large mammal species, can have a cute look, they also tend to be agressive when encountered on land. Especially so when they feel cornered and fear that your mere presence will cut them off from their favourite escape route: gliding into the water of a river or pool.
Hippos have been clocked at 30 km/h over short distances. Despite its weight (between 1,5 and 3 tonnes), its blocked shape and short legs, it can easily outrun a human. As such, it ranks among the most dangerous animals in Africa.
Nevertheless, hippos are qualified as a vulnerable species because they are threatened by habitat loss and poaching, the latter due to the belief that they are harmful to society. Besides that they are also poached for their meat and for financial gain regarding their ivory canine teeth. In May 2006, the hippopotamus was identified as a vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List drawn up by the World Conservation Union, with an estimated population of between 125,000 and 150,000 hippos, a decline of between 7% and 20% since 1996. Zambia (40,000) and Tanzania (20,000–30,000) possess the largest populations.
Adult hippos move at speeds up to 8 km/h in water; typically resurfacing to breathe every three to five minutes. The process of surfacing and breathing is automatic. A hippo sleeping underwater rises and breathes without waking.