By Dan Howlett @DanHowlett85
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Videographer / Director: Tracking The Wild
Producer: Dan Howlett, Chloe Browne
Editor: Jack Stevens
The normally nocturnal animal – who has been nicknamed Scarface by locals – stopped traffic when it brazenly crossed the road to graze.
As the large hippo reached the bank, meters away from the children, they swiftly fled from the tree and ran towards parked cars.
The unexpected animal visitor appeared unconcerned by all the attention, and continued on its exploration of the town.
Although behaving rather tamely in the video, hippos, which can weigh up to 8000 pounds and can gallop at 29 kilometers per hour, are often prone to aggressive behaviour.
The video was featured on the YouTube channel of the safari animal app and website, Tracking the Wild.
John and Natalie White who were holidaying in St Lucia, South Africa, caught the incredible moment on camera.
Natalie said: “We were approaching the roundabout when it came out across the road.
“There are signs all around warning about hippos crossing the street but they don’t normally come out through the day.
“I think that is why it was such a shock.
“The children were rightly terrified, you could hear their screams, but the hippo didn’t look too interested in them.
“But they were right to get as far from it as possible.”
Town residents are cautioned by signs to expect the occasional sighting of hippos, as the bordering wetland park of iSimangaliso is home to approximately 800 hippos and about 1,200 crocodiles.
The warning signs state that particular caution should be paid at nighttime, so the sight of one of the hippos on the high street at 3pm took the town by surprise.
The UNESCO world heritage site covers 280km of coastline from St Lucia in the south to the South Africa-Mozambique border in the north.