Verulam body may be hippo’s victim

2008-07-13 00:00

Nkululeko, the hippo wandering around the north coast, might have killed a man at the weekend.

It is alleged that the hippo was seen in the Verulam area on Saturday. Hours later, a man’s body was found at the side of a road in the vicinity with gashes on the head. However, authorities said a post mortem is needed to confirm the cause of death.

Terry Stewart of eThekwini Municipality’s natural resources division said he cannot comment until the cause of death is known.

Police spokesman Captain Muzi Mngomezulu said that when the man did not return home on Saturday, his wife went looking for him and found him lying on the road. “He had a deep wound in the head.”

Before news of the death, Stewart said the hippo was to be given a reprieve for two weeks, during which attempts would be made to capture it. He said that failing that, they would have to consider other options. Avoiding a direct question on whether the hippo could be shot dead, Stewart said they would “take whatever action is necessary”.

He said the 14-day reprieve would become null and void if the hippo becomes aggressive towards humans or attacks anyone.

Last night, Stewart declined to say what they will do if the man was indeed killed by a hippo.

“We will have to decide what action to take.”

He said eThekwini and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife entered into an agreement with Nkululeko’s champions, Animal Rights Africa, that the animals rights group would be given 14 days to bring in their experts to try to capture and relocate it.

Stewart warned that people should stay well away from the hippo. “We have seen a few people in the area who are hoping to catch sight of the hippo, but we are telling people not to go anywhere near it.”

Maureen Zimu of Ezemvelo said the matter has been handed over to eThekwini. “We have given them advice on how to handle the hippo, but it’s now under their jurisdiction.”

Attempts to reach Animal Rights Africa yesterday were unsuccessful.

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