20 July 2017
Who Flung Dung?

There is an old expression often said, which is not appropriate to share on this blog. It refers to poo hitting a fan and hence being sprayed all over the place. This is exactly what a dominant male hippo does with his dung. While in the process of defecating, he shakes his tail back and forward at an alarming rate. It causes all the dung to be haphazardly sprayed into the bush, this practice even has an official name: “ dung-showering”.

Dung showering

At Tanda Tula, we regularly find bushes or stumps near waterholes with this flung dung sprayed across it. There is no real proof to show that dominant males perform such odd behavior as a means of defining their territory. They are only really dominant over their particular watering hole. They will shower their dung in the water as well as out on land, often far distances from their pool. So perhaps it is just a means of actually showing other animals that they are in fact the dominant male in that part of the Timbavati.

The scent also becomes more detectable if the dung is spread out. This is not only for other animals but perhaps also for the hippo to navigate his way back to his waterhole. Hippos only eat grass and do not have the best digestive systems. Often you will find course grass and twigs in this spread out dung. Because hippos feed mostly at night when they leave the safety of their water holes in search of grass, the “dung-showering” is an activity not often witnessed. We mostly come across the evidence the morning after.

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