Time running out for hippos

Gravelotte – A group of nearly 20 hippos may have to be destroyed unless a wildlife trust is able to raise in the region of R200 000 within the next three weeks to relocate the animals from a rapidly diminishing pool of water.

Limpopo has recorded its lowest rainfall in 67 years, forcing conservationists to rescue parched and hungry wild animals on a daily basis.

The SanWild Wildlife Trust near Gravelotte has found that especially kudu are trapped by fences and are unable to reach areas where grazing can still be found.

Currently, a group of 17 hippos, including a new-born calf and three other un-weaned young, have been forced to huddle in a fast emptying dam of water along the Selati River.

“This water unfortunately is near to agricultural development and the last of the water will be pumped away within the next couple of weeks,” warns Louise Joubert.

Once this happens, the stricken hippos will have nowhere else to go because agricultural and game fences have cut off any route to other water sources.

Farmers have already expressed concern that the hippo will move into earth dams on neighbouring farms, destroying crops and endangering human lives. Conservation authorities will then be forced to issue permits allowing the animals to be destroyed.

There’s also concern that territorial fights will soon break out within the hippo group because there could be up to three different family units that have been forced to share the pool of water.

SanWild has been given permission to relocate the animals to the SanWild Wildlife Sanctuary but they need to raise enough funds for pumping equipment to fill three earth dams, one in the sanctuary and two on adjoining land, for the hippos.

“Unfortunately we have not been able to raise sufficient funding to complete the fencing around the adjoining land or to equip the existing borehole with pumping equipment,” said Joubert.

Wildlife Translocation Services has already offered to capture and relocate the animals free of charge.

Once normal rainfall resumes, the hippos located on the land adjoining SanWild will be released back into the Selati River.

The other family group will remain in the sanctuary.

Those willing to help can contact Louise at SanWild on 083 310 3882 or email sanwild@pixi.co.za.