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200 stranded hippos in Chobe River in need of rescue

Written by on April 23, 2024

Salambala Conservancy game rangers have been pumping water into a muddy pool in the Chobe River since last month to save about 200 hippos.

The situation has been brought about by the prevailing drought, with the hippos having nowhere to go to find water.

The hippos in the pool are from the Mutikitila area of the Katima Rural constituency.

The Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism drilled a borehole pumping 12 000 litres per hour in 2019 to save 63 hippos in a similar situation in the same area.

Salambala Conservancy chairperson Fabian Mavuna yesterday said fortunately for the hippos currently stranded, this borehole is still functioning.

He said this would keep the hippos alive, although it is just a temporary solution.

“The annual floods usually fill up the river, but due to drought, floods did not come, and are now endangering the lives of hippos and crocodiles alike.

“We need more boreholes to be drilled between Ngoma, Lake Liambezi and Linyanti, because the channels are drying up and these animals have nowhere to go.

“A human-wildlife conflict crisis is slowly looming due to this drought, because of the animals that are migrating from the Chobe National Park into Namibia in search of water. We have already received reports of lions and hyenas eating the livestock of local farmers,” he said.

Mavuna said the conservancy is getting assistance from the environment ministry and its Botswana counterpart with regards to petrol and a generator to pump water for the hippos.

Environment ministry spokesperson Romeo Muyunda, when approached for a comment yesterday, said the ministry is aware of the drought affecting the hippos, and as such drilled two more boreholes in the region for them at the beginning of the year.

He said this is the only solution the ministry has until the next rainy season.

“We understand that the state the hippos are finding themselves in is not good, and it may take time for the channels to fill up.
“However, we are monitoring the situation to see if it would require further intervention besides the pumping of water from these boreholes.

“If the need arises, we may increase the capacity of these boreholes by getting larger pumps. If that does not help, we will relocate these hippos to nearby areas with sufficient water.

“We will do everything in our power to keep all the hippos affected in the region alive,” he said.

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