Hippo captured in Mbombela dies after it was darted

2019-01-15 17:02
An adult hippo bull roaming the streets of Mbombela on Saturday night.PHOTO: Bossies Community Justice

An adult hippo bull roaming the streets of Mbombela on Saturday night.PHOTO: Bossies Community Justice

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A hippo bull that was darted in the early hours of Sunday morning along the R40 in Mbombela died on Sunday night, Lowvelder reported.

According to that publication, hippos have "complex physiology which causes their breathing to be easily affected by anaesthesia".

Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency’s (MTPA) Dr Ferreira du Plessis told Lowvelder: "This is very sad, as we were going to relocate him to a reserve that needed a bull hippo."

On Monday, News24 reported that the enormous hippo bull had been spotted roaming the streets of Mbombela in Mpumalanga several times before he was finally caught and relocated in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The operation took around three hours to complete, Bossies Community Justice operations manager Albert Gryvenstein told News24.

"There had been several sightings of the hippo over the last week or so, but every time we went out we couldn't find anything," Gryvenstein said.

So when the call came in late on Saturday night that the hippo was grazing along the R40 and old KaNyamazane Road, Gryvenstein and his team responded, along with other emergency response units and the MTPA.

"The R40 is one of the main routes in Mbombela, and it is a busy road, so we had to ensure the hippo didn't wander into the traffic," Gryvenstein said.

A pool of security vehicles were used to isolate the hippo, while awaiting the arrival of the MWPS.

Gryvenstein said he was concerned that the hippo would be shot, but the MTPA arrived with a truck and indicated that the bull would be darted and relocated.

No easy task

But getting a fully grown bull of this size darted and moved onto a truck is no easy task.

"It took three darts to get him to fall asleep and he had to be lifted onto the truck by crane," Gryvenstein said. "It was a helluva thing."

Adult male hippos can weigh anything between 1.3 and 1.5 tons.

Darting such a big animal is also an expensive endeavour.

"We underestimated its size, it was a moerse (huge) bull. After the second dart was fired, the guy told me it had already cost more than R5 000. So by my calculation, the darts alone cost more than R7 500."

According to Gryvenstein, the hippo was meant to be taken to the MTPA to be sold and rereleased into the wild.

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