The Hippos: Natural History and Conservation (A Volume in the Poyser Natural History Series)

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9780856611315: The Hippos: Natural History and Conservation (A Volume in the Poyser Natural History Series)
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Hippos are unusual in being genuinely amphibious and this has a fundamental effect on their physiology and way of life. Following a general introduction, there is a detailed description of hippo anatomy and physiology, including many fascinating and little known facts about their skin structure and physiology. The complex question of hippo stomach anatomy, and its impact on their diet and nutrition, is critically reviewed. Hippos have a four-chambered stomach similar to ruminants although, unlike them, they do not chew the cud. Hence they are often called "pseudoruminants". The fossil history of hippos is then considered and the recently claimed relationship with whales is examined. Subsequent chapters are devoted to their social biology and ecology, including descriptions of their breeding and feeding ecology. Several extraordinary instances of carnivory, including an instance of cannibalism, are described. A chapter on diseases and parasites also discusses the relations between hippos and other species, including crocodiles, to which they appear to be dominant. A consideration of the hippo's relationships with its human neighbours and the prospects for its long-term conservation gives an important view of current conservation concerns. The book closes with three chapters devoted to the results of the author's recent survey on the distribution and abundance of the common hippo throughout Africa. This is the first such estimate to have been made on a continent-wide basis and the total population of about 170,000 was so much smaller than many people had expected, that it resulted in the common hippo being given special protection under the CITES convention.

Key Features
* The first complete work on both species of hippo, the river hippo and the pygmy hippo
* Much of its data is drawn from the author's experiences while completing the IUCN Hippo Plan throughout Africa and in Uganda in particular
* All aspects of hippo biology are covered
* There has been no previous in depth study of the ecology and behaviour of these mammals before

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From the Back Cover:

The Hippos by Keith Eltringham is the first book to present a complete coverage of hippopotamus biology and ecology. Keith Eltringham summarises the most recent studies and presents them in a style accessible to the interested general reader and the research biologist alike. Both the larger, common hippo and the smaller, and much less well-studied, pygmy hippo are described, and the similarities and differences between them discussed are unusual in being genuinely amphibious and this has a fundamental effect on their physiology and way of life. Following a general introduction, there is a detailed description of hippo anatomy and physiology, including many fascinating and little known facts about their skin structure and physiology. The complex question of hippo stomach anatomy, and its impact on their diet and nutrition, is critically reviewed. Hippos have a four-chambered stomach similar to ruminants although, unlike them, they do not chew the cud. Hence they are often called "pseudoruminants." The fossil history of hippos is then considered and the recently claimed relationships with whales is examined. Subsequent chapters are devoted to their social biology and ecology, including descriptions of their breeding and feeding ecology. Several extraordinary instances of carnivory, including an instance of cannibalism, are described. A chapter on diseases and parasites also discusses the relations between hippos and other species, including crocodiles, to which they appear to be dominant. A consideration of the hippos relationships with its human neighbours and the prospects for its long-term conservation gives an important view of current conservation concerns. The book closes with three chapters devoted to the results of the author's recent survey on the distribution and abundance of the common hippo throughout Africa. This is the first such estimate to have been made on a continent-wide basis and the total population of about 170,000, was so much smaller than many people had expected, that it resulted in the common hippo being given special protection under the CITES convention.

About the Author:

After national service with the Royal Air Force, S. Keith Eltringham worked as a laboratory assistant in the research section of the National Smelting Company, Avonmouth, before going to university to read Zoology. He studied the physiological ecology of the gribble, a marine wood-boring crustacean, for his Ph.D. but his first post was a Pilot Biologist at the Wildfowl Trust at Slimbridge, where he explored the role of aerial survey in counting wildfowl. This was followed by a period as Lecturer in Zoology at King's College, University of London, where he taught marine biology as well as introducing a course in conservation. He first went to Africa in 1966 and later became Director of the Nuffield Unit of Tropical Animal Ecology, based in the Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. When the Nuffield grant expired, the Unit was passed to the Ugandan Government as the Unganda Institute of Ecology and he became its first Director as well as Chief Research Officer of the Uganda National Parks. He returned to England to take up a lectureship in Applied Biology at Cambridge University and, later, a lectureship in Zoology, but he returned to Africa several times a year to continue his researches on large mammals. He was also a Fellow and Admissions Tutor at Wolfson College. During this period he was Chairman of the Hippo Specialist Group within the Species Survival Commission of IUCN. He is now retired but continues to visit Africa regularly.

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