Road accidents claim two young hippos

16 May 2017  Read: 1398


Two young hippo bulls were euthanized this past week in Tzaneen after accidents involving vehicles. In one incident on Friday evening near Haenertsburg, a hippo was struck by a bakkie travelling over the bridge on the R71. The driver of the vehicle, Mr Hugo van den Dool, escaped injury and the animal ran off into the bushes.

A search was launched and two days later, the hippo was spotted at the Ebenezer dam. The animal was visibly in pain and had blood coming from its mouth. It was limping and upon inspection it was discovered that one of its back legs were broken. The animal was euthanized.

In the second incident, an injured hippo bull made its way to the entrance gates of the Department of Water Affairs behind the Tzaneen dam wall on Sunday evening. “My workers called me to come and have a look as they said the animal was in pain,” explained Mr Charl Verwey. “It was a young bull, maybe two or three years old at most and he was in some serious distress. He had a massive wound on his side and back and one of his legs were swollen to about double the size of the other three.”

Verwey contacted the SPCA and SANParks who came to the site to assess the animal.

“This young bull was definitely hit by a vehicle,” said Ellie Potgieter, inspector at Letaba SPCA. “Blood was running from his nose, he had broken ribs and a lot of bruising on his side. One of his legs was also inflamed. We decided upon a thorough assessment that it would be in the interest of the animal if we had it euthanized.”

A PH was called in and after the animal was shot, the carcass was moved to a sanctuary to feed other animals. “That is the only thing we can do with a carcass after something like this. We put it back into the environment.”

When asked about the possible reasons behind the recent increase in hippos being hit by vehicles along the roads in the area, Potgieter explained that construction plays a major factor.

“The construction currently taking place at the Tzaneen dam is effectively ruining the hippos’ natural feeding grounds and they then move towards other areas. Hippos are nocturnal and move from water to water in search of grass at night time. They only eat grass, nothing else. When you take away their grass, they will walk to another spot. This is why they are crossing roads at night and why drivers are hitting them.”

It is the fourth report in the province this month alone, of hippos being hit by vehicles along highways at night. Motorists are urged to travel with caution as wild animals not only cause damage to your vehicle, but may result in serious injuries or even death should you hit one of them at speed.



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