Hippo donated to Zulu king: Report

By Drum Digital
18 October 2012

A hippo that was to be sold to a private buyer was killed and donated to Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, the Mercury reported on Thursday.

Three months ago the hippo attacked Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife technician Anthony Swatton while it was grazing in the village of St Lucia inside the Isimangaliso Wetland Park.

After the attack it was caught and sent to Ezemvelo game capture bomas at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi.

Ezemvelo spokesman Musa Mntambo said in an email to the Mercury: "The hippo was donated to the Reed Dance ceremony that took place in Ingwavuma from September 14-16 for the uMkhanyakude community. It was not given to the king per se."

He also said Ezemvelo decided to kill the hippo because it could have ended up attacking another person.

"We could not take that risk," said Mntambo.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife chief executive Bandile Mkhize said: "From time to time we donate animals to the king. We have a special relationship and negotiate with him on what is possible or not possible, but I would hate to see him portrayed as someone who bulldozes us."

He said Ezemvelo had a policy to destroy any wild animal which attacks people.

Royal family spokesman Prince Mbonisi Zulu referred all queries to Ezemvelo.

"I have not heard of such an animal being donated to His Majesty," Zulu said.

General Manager of Zululand Rhino Reserve, Karen Holmes, confirmed the reserve had offered to acquire the hippo and pay translocation costs.

"But a few days prior to delivery we were notified that the hippo was no longer available. We were not told why," Holmes said.

- by Sapa

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