Look! Hippo in the Free State

2017-03-13 12:49
Three hippo in a farm dam in the eastern Free State (Marguerite Vermeulen, Netwerk24)

Three hippo in a farm dam in the eastern Free State (Marguerite Vermeulen, Netwerk24)

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Bloemfontein - Motorists are craning their necks when they see three hippo floating around a windmill in a dam in the eastern Free State.

Netwerk24 reported that the hippo on Rusplaas, in the Reitz district, can be seen chilling out in the dam, which is full after recent good rains. 

They are some of the few hippo which have been reintroduced to the Free State after more than 150 years.

Danie Slabbert, a former Young Farmer of the Year winner from the area, said about 700mm had fallen in the Reitz district during the past season.

Photos taken of the dam on his father Pieter’s nearby farm, Rusplaas, with the windmill just showing above the water, are being shared on social media.

Windmill a local landmark

Danie says the dam is next to the road between Reitz and Kestell and has become a landmark in the area. Visitors regularly post pictures of the windmill in the middle of the dam.

Facebook users joke about how hard the windmill is working, while others wonder if the story about the hippo can be believed. 

Danie says his father "brought a bit of the Bushveld to the Free State" when he bought two hippo in 2014. They are about seven years old now and a little one was born in the dam last year. The calf bobs around in the water with its parents.

The Slabberts bought the farm in 1992 and had the dam built in 1998. The windmill was supposed to be removed, but a flood that year stopped them. The windmill has stood in the middle of the dam ever since.

"There have been times when we could have removed it, but it has become a well-known landmark, and that's why we've left it."

Danie says they plant special grazing for the hippo next to the dam in the Langspruit.

Owning hippo is regulated by the Free State Department of Nature Conservation, and the animals have to be inside an electrified camp.

Hippo can weigh up to two-and-a-half tons.

In addition to the hippo, Rusplaas is home to buffalo, reedbuck, zebra and red hartebeest since 2014.  

Danie says several other farmers in the area have also bought hippo.

Read more on:    bloemfontein  |  animals  |  agriculture

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