Cover image for The hippos : natural history and conservation
The hippos : natural history and conservation
Eltringham, S. K. (Stewart Keith)
Publication Information:
London ; San Diego, Calif. : Academic Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
viii, 184 pages, 4 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 23 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QL737.U57 E48 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Hippos are unusual in being genuinely amphibious and this has a fundamental effect on their physiology and way of life. Following a general introduction, there is a detailed description of hippo anatomy and physiology, including many fascinating and little known facts about their skin structure and physiology. The complex question of hippo stomach anatomy, and its impact on their diet and nutrition, is critically reviewed. Hippos have a four-chambered stomach similar to ruminants although, unlike them, they do not chew the cud. Hence they are often called "pseudoruminants." The fossil history of hippos is then considered and the recently claimed relationship with whales is examined. Subsequent chapters are devoted to their social biology and ecology, including descriptions of their breeding and feeding ecology. Several extraordinary instances of carnivory, including an instance of cannibalism, are described. A chapter on diseases and parasites also discusses the relations between hippos and other species, including crocodiles, to which they appear to be dominant. A consideration of the hippo's relationships with its human neighbors and the prospects for its long-term conservation gives an important view of current conservation concerns. The book closes with three chapters devoted to the results of the author's recent survey on the distribution and abundance of the common hippo throughout Africa. This is the first such estimate to have been made on a continent-wide basis and the total population of about 170,000 was so much smaller than many people had expected, that it resulted in the common hippo being given special protection under the CITES convention.

Key Features:

The first complete work on both species of hippo, the river hippo and the pygmy hippo
Much of its data is drawn from the author's experiences while completing the IUCN Hippo Plan throughout Africa and in Uganda in particular
All aspects of hippo biology are covered
There has been no previous in depth study of the ecology and behavior of these mammals before

Author Notes

Authors Bio, not available

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Missing among the numerous books on African large mammals are titles on the hippopotamus. This welcome volume by Eltringham (retired, Cambridge Univ.) is the first full account of the common hippopotamus, found in East and South Africa, and the pigmy hippopotamus, inhabiting the forests of West Africa. The author, who spent years in Africa studying wildlife, has summarized the scattered literature on the species. An excellent chapter on anatomy and physiology discusses the unique structure of hippo skin and the digestive system with its ruminant-like, four-chambered stomach. Other chapters cover the origin of hippos; behavioral ecology, including territoriality of males; grazing routine; dispersal; reproduction; diet and the differing feeding habits of both species; diseases and parasites; the environmental effects of hippos on vegetation; relations with humans; and responses to culling. Three chapters survey the distribution and abundance of hippos throughout Africa. The results suggest that although not yet endangered, both the widespread common hippo and the narrowly restricted pigmy hippo require protection. Line drawings; graphs; distribution maps; informative black-and-white photos. A major contribution to mammalian and African wildlife literature, one which every mammalian and wildlife conservation collection should have. General readers; upper-division undergraduates through professionals. R. L. Smith; West Virginia University

Table of Contents

1. Introductionp. 1
2. Anatomy and Physiologyp. 8
3. The Origins of Hipposp. 39
4. The Social Life of Hipposp. 47
5. Reproduction in Hipposp. 58
6. Diet and Feeding Habits of Hipposp. 74
7. The Ecology of Hipposp. 86
8. Diseases, Parasites and Commensals of Hipposp. 110
9. Hippos and Manp. 120
10. The Distribution and Numbers of Hippop. 134
11. The Distribution and Numbers of Hippopotamus amphibius in East Africap. 153
12. The Distribution and Numbers of Hippopotamus amphibius in Southern Africap. 162
Referencesp. 173
Indexp. 179