A Hippo Named Vincent
St Lucia’s very own icon!
by Riette Bennett
…the only hippo with a name as all the others look the same!…
Vincent is a dominant hippo bull of one of the hippo pods residing close to the bridge area in the St Lucia Estuary. Vincent is seen often and photographed by tourists who are enjoying a 2 hour boat cruise of the estuary – and his unique story of how he came to lose his ear (was it bitten off, and if so, by whom?) will normally be related by the captains or guides of these tour boats.
Each pod (group) of hippos is dominated by one male, and it is reliably recounted that Vincent’s left ear was bitten off in a bloody fight with a younger male in the estuary narrows about 8 years ago. Vincent lost the fight and had to move out.
He wily Vincent relocated closer to the bridge, and was able to ‘steal’ a cow from another pod in the vicinity. Their fairytale was brought to a sudden end when the cow was killed by a speeding runaway vehicle one night – a vehicle allegedly belonging to a fleeing prawn poacher with the SAPS and local conservation officials in hot pursuit.
The lonely lifestyle did not suit Vincent’s temperament, and he was soon courting his next partner while grazing at night. 8 years on, he happily presides over a pod consisting of 7 females and 3 new little calves.
See our next editions of the Trumpeter for more details on Vincent’s life. His birthday is celebrated on 1 December every year!