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The hippopotamus, sometimes known simply as the hippo, is a huge animal endemic to Sub-Saharan Africa. These enormous creatures are notorious for their aggressive attitude and formidable jaws, making them one of the most deadly animals in the wild.

Despite their bad image, hippos are an integral element of many African ecosystems and play a significant role in environmental shaping.

grazing hippo in kruger

In this article, we will look at hippos' native habitat and the nations where they may be found in the wild. We will also present a list of the best 15 African national parks to visit for hippos.

Where Do Hippos Live In The Wild?

Hippos are native to Africa and are primarily found in the sub-Saharan regions of the continent. They are semiaquatic mammals that reside in rivers, lakes, and swamps with slow-moving water.

Hippos are well adapted to the African wilderness and can be found in many countries where the hippos can get a lot of grass for pasture and water for drinking and avoiding the hot sun. Some of the countries where hippos are commonly found include Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, and Uganda.

hippo habitat map

Habitat Range Of Hippos In Africa.

Hippos are found in a wide range of sub-Saharan Africa.

Here is a table showing the countries in Africa where hippos live naturally in the wild. 

  •  Angola 
  •  Burkina Faso 
  •  Burundi 
  •  Cameroon 
  •  Central African Republic 
  •  Chad
  •  D.R Congo 
  •  Eritrea
  •  Ethiopia 
  •  Gabon
  •  Gambia
  •  Ghana
  •  Guinea
  •  Guinea-Bissau
  •  Kenya
  •  Liberia
  •  Malawi
  •  Mali 
  •  Mauritania 
  •  Mozambique
  •  Namibia 
  •  Niger
  •  Nigeria
  •  Rwanda
  •  Senegal
  •  Sierra Leone
  •  Somalia
  •  South Africa 
  •  South Sudan
  •  Sudan
  •  Tanzania 
  •  Togo
  •  Uganda 
  •  Zambia
  •  Zimbabwe

While all the above countries do have hippos, there is always a difference in how easy or hard it is to see the hippos. Or even, what numbers are present.

In other countries, the tourism infrastructure might be underdeveloped and thus make it difficult for most people to go and visit for hippos or any other travel experiences.

Which National Parks Can I Visit In Africa For Hippos

A visit to a national park or wildlife reserve is one of the greatest methods to witness hippos in the wild. There are plenty of excellent national parks in Africa, each offering its unique opportunity to see these amazing creatures.

Here are the 15 national parks you can easily visit and find schools upon schools of hippos freely enjoying the wild. These are not listed according to any order or ranking, because the diversity in each place is different.

Top 15 African national parks to visit for hippos
 1.   Okavango Delta  Botswana
 2.  Chobe National Park  Botswana
 3.   Murchison Falls National Park  Uganda
 4.   Kruger National Park  South Africa 
 5.  Selous Game Reserve  Tanzania
 6.  Kafue National Park  Zambia
 7.   Lower Zambezi National Park  Zambia
 8.   Linyanti Wildlife Reserve  Botswana
 9.   Masai Mara National Reserve  Kenya
 10.   Ngorongoro Conservation Area   Tanzania
 11.   Hwange National Park  Zimbabwe
 12.  Etosha National Park  Namibia
 13.  Lake Nakuru National Park  Kenya
 14.  Queen Elizabeth National Park  Uganda
 15.   Akagera National Park  Rwanda

It is worth noting that many of these national parks are not only home to hippos but also a wide variety of other wildlife species. So, it is not only a great opportunity for observing hippos, but also for a whole safari experience with many other animals such as elephants, lions, giraffes, zebras, antelopes, buffalos, birds, and more.

What Do Hippos Need In Their Habitat?

Hippos require a huge body of water with grazing grasslands nearby. They spend most of the day submerged in the water to escape the blazing African heat.

When the hippos begin grazing after sundown, they cover an extensive area to eat enough grass to support their gigantic bodies.

Another benefit of the large habitat is that hippos establish territories, especially in the water where they spend the majority of their day.

walking hippo

Threats To Hippo Habitats

The habitats of hippos are majorly affected by 2 factors - human activities and climate change.

A). Human Activities

Human activities like agriculture, urbanization, dam building, and many others can significantly affect the habitat of hippos by encroaching on the water and grazing resources. And given that hippos are Africa's most dangerous animal, human encroachment rarely works in their favour.

B). Climate Change

Another big challenge for hippos and their habitat is climate change. Increasing temperatures and longer droughts continue to shrink their natural habitat.

In the African savannah where they live, the scorching sun made them adapt to spending time underwater during the day, but longer droughts and hotter temperatures mean less water in the rivers and lakes.

hippo near river bank

Habitat Conservation For Hippos

Amidst all this, there are a lot of conservation efforts going on to protect hippos and everything in their natural ecosystems.

From tourism and research to educating the people on the importance of biodiversity among many others. In many African countries, when you visit a national park or reserve, your entrance and activities fees go directly back into the conservation and protection of these fragile ecosystems.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the wild habitat of hippos in Africa is a vital part of the continent's rich and diverse ecosystem. From the endless grasslands of Kenya's Maasai Mara to the unbelievable Okavango Delta in Botswana, these magnificent creatures have called Africa home for millions of years.

It's our responsibility to play a role to help preserve and protect these vital habitats for future generations to enjoy. By supporting sustainable tourism and responsible travel practices, we can play a crucial role in conserving these precious ecosystems and the wildlife that calls them home.

So if you're a fan of these majestic beasts, or simply love exploring the wild wonders of Africa, be sure to check out other articles and resources on the subject. Whether you're planning a once-in-a-lifetime safari, or just looking to learn more about these amazing creatures, there's no better time to delve into the world of hippos.

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