Tala hippo at large

2018-02-05 13:48
A file picture of a hippoptamus grazing in the Kruger National Park recently.

A file picture of a hippoptamus grazing in the Kruger National Park recently. (Ian Carbutt)

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A young hippo has been at large since Friday night after escaping from the Tala Private Game Reserve.

Its exact whereabouts were unknown on Sunday afternoon when The Witness paid a visit to the Beaumont Eston Farmers’ Club where it had reportedly been spotted in a nearby dam.

The dam, which is visible from the clubhouse, is surrounded by thick reeds.

The hippo was reportedly spotted in the area by members of the club who were on a trail run.

Tala Private Game Reserve’s general manager Greg Allan told The Witness that the hippo was believed to be in the dam on the club property and plans were being made to recapture it.

“ At the moment we are contemplating active capture methods to get it back into the reserve,” said Allan.

He said the active capture methods could involve any one or a combination of techniques including netting, darting or herding the animal into a cordoned-off area.

The two-year-old hippo calf had left its pod and escaped from the reserve on Friday night. It is believed to have knocked down a stretch of perimeter fencing.

Allan said the active capture methods would depend on a variety of circumstances, such as where the animal was located and how much cover it was afforded.

“The problem with, for example, darting, is that the animal can run into the water and drown. It will all depend on the position and location of the animal when we get hold of it,” said Allan.

He said conservationists were hoping to have a situation where they dictated the terms of capture with minimal disturbances and minimal damage to vegetation.

“The reason the hippo has ventured off is because he is fighting with the dominant male. I’m guessing they got into a tussle and he decided to run away,” said Allan.

He reminded the public that hippos were dangerous wild animals.

“People should not be silly and try to come close to them or capture them as they could be dangerous if cornered,” he said.

Allan said Tala Private Game Reserve, which has among its main tourist attractions antelopes and rhinos, has had hippos for 12 years.

The reserve is currently home to 15 hippos.

A member of the Beaumont Eston Farmers’ Club, who declined to be named, said club members had spotted the animal grazing in the reeds of the dam.

“We have spoken to the farmers in the area to be on the lookout and ensure everyone’s safety,” said the member.

An employee at the club said word about the missing hippo started circulating early yesterday morning.

“Everyone in the area is talking about it and we hope the rangers will capture it soon. We just hope it won’t attack anyone,” said the employee

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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