Ranch: Culling hippo last resort

2014-04-02 20:58

Hippo (Shutterstock)

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Johannesburg - The killing of a hippo at Lake Heritage on Heia Safari Ranch in Muldersdrift was a last resort as the hippos in the area had become a threat to human life, general manager Gaby Burgmer said on Wednesday.

"Unfortunately the hippos in the area have posed a threat to both our guests and our staff for the past year. We have had instances where our staff have been chased by hippos," Burgmer said in a statement.

"Killing the hippo broke our hearts but human lives had to come first."

She said based on professional expert opinion the hippo could endanger lives so the ranch took the "extremely difficult decision" because it was not a risk they were prepared to take.

Burgmer said the ranch tried everything possible to save the hippo, but had no choice but to cull the animal. She said that on two different occasions hippos had made their way to a smaller dam at the ranch.

They were captured by professional game capturers and relocated back to Aloe Ridge.

Game translocater Koos Dippenaar said the problem was not unique to the ranch, but there had been problems over the last couple of years in the Muldersdrift area.

Hippos were first introduced in the area in the early 1980s and they predominantly bred male calves so there was an overpopulation of bulls in the area, he said.

He said because Muldersdrift was predominantly farmland and not bushveld the area was too small for the hippos and they were becoming problematic and immune to electric fencing.

"We have tried on numerous occasions to confine them or to dart them, but this has not proved successful. Relocation is also often not an option as they are so difficult to catch when in a river or large dam," he said in a statement.

"Last year we were faced with the same problem at two other estates in the area. Culling an animal is always our very last resort but in a lot of instances we have been left with no choice."

Dippenaar said they tried to lure the hippo out of the lake to relocate them but this was unsuccessful.

Burgmer said the decision to shoot the hippo was not taken lightly or suddenly.

"We have literally agonised over it for a whole year trying different solutions in partnership with Dippenaar," she said.

"Due to the size of the dam, all attempts to capture or relocate this hippo have been futile."

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  animals

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