‘Helpful’ hippo kills lioness by mistake

2012-05-09 00:00

RANGERS at a game reserve near Pretoria believe a hippo killed a lioness — by accident — on Saturday.

The lioness’s body was found with a deep bite around her neck, but otherwise clean and dry on an island in a dam in the Dinokeng reserve.

Gavin Sterley, head ranger at Mongena Game Lodge, who monitors the movements of the reserve’s lions, said he believed the hippo was trying to move the lioness to a safer place because “they instinctively try to help other animals”.

All nine of the reserve’s hippos were still in the dam when the grueome discovery was made.

Sterley and his fellow rangers had to use a tractor to pull the lioness’s body to the side of the dam.

“A lion won’t just go for a swim, and a hippo would not just kill another animal,” Sterley said of the death.

The lioness was the second the reserve has lost this year.

A young male had to be shot in February after it was so badly injured by an older male that it could no longer walk.

The reserve got its first lions — two males and two females — in September last year and another similar group in November.

Rangers said that the animals have now split into four groups of two each — males and females separately.

They believe this is because the females are on birth control, which has made them less desirable to the males.

Etienne Toerien, who chairs the reserve’s management committee, said they hope to get more lions.

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