Find out why we know it’s a female

With the end of the rainy season, the groups organized by Orango Parque Hotel have once again visited the lagoons located in the Anor region, one of the most fascinating enclaves on the island of Orango due to the diversity of its ecosystem and the beauty of its landscapes.

Many of the herds of saltwater hippos that inhabit the island of Orango Grande spend the summer there, taking advantage of the fact that the water that falls during the rainy season floods the area, and gives rise to temporary lagoons that remain full for a few months.

There the groups of hippos spend the days there, giving away unique and unforgettable scenes like the one we have witnessed this morning. After one of the hotel guides warned us, a few weeks ago, of the possible birth of a new hippopotamus calf, today we have verified that this has been the case.

hipopotamo agua salada isla orango guinea bissau

Baby of See Hippopotamus

The family grows, and it is a privilege to have witnessed it with our own eyes. We had just arrived in the area and, while everyone was in absolute silence, we noticed that there was a kind of stain next to an adult specimen.

After a short time we saw that it was moving and, when looking through the binoculars, it was there. It is a baby of a few months who, according to what the Orango Parque Hotel guide has told us, must weigh around 60 kilos.

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Hippopotamus calves weigh between 30 and 50 kilos at birth

And only in the first year of life can they reach 200 kilos. During this time, the babies are nursed by their mothers in the water, where they also give birth.

Visitors immediately became interested in finding out more about the new animal, starting with whether it was a male or a female. And, according to the guide, it is a female. Apparently only they stay with the herd during the first months of life, being protected by the mother and the rest of the group members from possible crocodile attacks.

However, in the case of males, they spend these early days almost alone with their respective mothers, to avoid conflicts with the head of the group. And it is that a territorial confrontation with an animal of 4.5 meters in length and almost 4 tons in weight could be fatal for the calf. That is why most groups are made up of a dominant male and another 5, 10 or 30 females with their young of different ages.

During the half hour that we have been in place, the calf has hardly moved from its mother’s side, except to dive and swim. An activity that, from what we have seen, they dominate from a very young age. We have also been able to observe its small ears and large eyes, and how, despite its young age, it had a large head.

A trip to Africa to discover Guinea Bissau and the Island of Orango

It’s time to go back to the hotel, and before doing so we decided to name the new member of the pack: Okinka. Okinka Pampa was one of the most famous queens of the Bijagó people, and represents the essence of the animist religion that prevails in this part of the Guinean archipelago.

A belief that elevates nature to the Olympus of the gods, and is the origin of the customs of respect for the environment that prevails throughout the territory. It is time to withdraw and we leave knowing that we have witnessed a unique event.

We promise to return, in the hope that Okinka will remain in her summer resort, until the water in the lagoon dries up and forces the hippos to take refuge in the mangroves. When it happens, around the month of January, we won’t be able to see them, but we will be able to hear them, and see the footprints they leave on the beach when they go to eat at night. Welcome, Okinka, the new hippo calf from the island of Orango Grande!

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