A tale of the Hippo, by the Bayei – Duba Plains, Botswana

HIPPO STORY BY THE BAYEI TRIBE (Living in Nothern Botswana)

A folk story told around the fire-place

When God made me, he gave me this ugly skin. My skin was heavy and outside the water I will burn. I then asked God if I can stay in the water so I can keep my body cool.

God asked me “if you stay in the water, are you not going to eat my fishes?’

I then answered “No I won’t eat your fish, I’m only going into the water because I’m burning outside on land.”

Before I was granted to live in the water I had to make this confession

“While in the water I will keep opening my mouth, so you can see I don’t have any of your fish in the mouth.  If I have to go to the toilet, I will go outside the water and spray my dung so you can see there is no fish-bone in it.”

That is why we see this big mammal living in the water in harmony with the fish.


  • Hippos stay in water to keep their skin moist and to prevent dehydration, sunburn and wounds.
  • Dung showering is common in males as a visual ritual of dominance
  • Hippos are generally vegetarians


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