Hippos are widely considered one of the most dangerous animals in Africa with some saying that hippos kill more people in Africa than any other animal!
In the Daily Mail report, farmer Marius Els, says:
“…I have a relationship with the most dangerous animal in Africa.”
Given that hippos are aggressive and territorial it’s remarkable that this South African farmer is actually riding a hippo like a semi-aquatic horse!
This large herbivore is generally ill tempered and faster than it looks, both on land and in water, being capable of easily outrunning a human, Science Facts says:
“…combine these factors with a strong set of jaws and large tusks you have an animal with an extremely destructive bite.”
Marius feeds the hippo apples before easing into a ride on this dangerous animal’s back, telling Daily Mail that:
"If he decides to get me off his back, then he throws me over like a horse."
This South African farmer’s wife is less sure about the friendship between Marius and the hippo, they call Humphrey, as he tells Daily Mail:
“… she tells me not to trust him all the time because he is very dangerous.”
Nevertheless, famer and wildlife breeder Marius says
“Humphrey's like a son to me, he's just like a human”
The 1200kg hippo lives in a dam that Marius built on his wildlife farm near Petrus Steynlakes, in the Free State Province of South Africa. Wild animals bred at the farm include rhino, giraffe, buffalo and antelope species.
Be it madness or a true bond, this farmer is not the only one getting precariously close to Africa's dangerous wild animals. There's also a man living with two African lions in the US this month!