Baby hippos in Zim pit rescues

2016-03-17 17:11
(Kariba ANimal Welfare Fund Trust)

(Kariba ANimal Welfare Fund Trust)

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Harare - How do you get a baby hippo out of a hole?

Very carefully, especially if Mother Hippo is watching, according to Zimbabwe conservationist Debbie Ottman.

Ottman's group, the Kariba Animal Welfare Trust, helped local residents and rangers from Zimbabwe's Parks and Wildlife Management Authority extract two hippo calves from holes they'd tumbled into in February and March.

The holes were on the banks of Lake Kariba, a favourite spot for tourists and fishermen.
Ottman said the process of getting the hippo out of its hole can be dangerous "if you don't know what you're doing".

"Somebody gets in the hole and ties a rope around [the hippo] and then lifts it out," she told News24.

Both hippos were about two months old, "just under the height of Labrador dogs," she said.

Sadly, the first baby hippo that was rescued did not survive. His lung had been damaged in a bite from a bull hippo and he had to be put down.

Ottman said workers at a nearby hotel had strung up a wire fence to try to keep wildlife away from the holes which were being dug for boat-sheds.

"When the bull hippo bit the baby he smashed through the fence," she said. "Possibly also the mother broke the fence as she was trying to run away."

The mother was "very distressed" as attempts were being made to lift the youngster out.

Ottman thinks the mother likely knew that her baby was badly injured because of the attack from the bull.

"It's always extremely traumatic and emotional and sad when these sort of things happen and more so when the mother is hanging around," she said.

The second rescue, on March 3, ended happily.

This time the calf hadn't been attacked and had just fallen down a hole. His mother was nearby as he was being hauled out, said Ottman.

"She even came out to say hurry up."

Workers have now closed up the holes with cement slabs so this doesn't happen again.

Read more on:    zimbabwe  |  animals

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