Effort to save stranded hippos underway

Niël Terblanché

The Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism (MEFT) has stepped in to assist more than 200 hippopotamuses trapped in the mud of floodplains along the Linyanti and Chobe rivers in the Zambezi Region.

After a decisive response to an environmental crisis, the ministry has assured the public that the situation is under control, with no immediate threat to the affected wildlife.

Romeo Muyunda, a spokesperson of the MEFT, detailed the proactive measures taken since 2019, including installing a borehole and generator-powered pumps to supply water to the drying pond areas of the flood plains.

He said that ever since then, the installed equipment has been able to address water shortages during periods of severe drought.

“There is currently no cause for concern in regards to the hippo situation in the Zambezi Region as interventions are taking shape,” said Muyunda.

Muyunda confirmed that additional aid came from the wildlife authorities of Botswana, who supplied an additional generator and fuel to enhance pumping capacity.

He said that recent measures include the installation of a solar panel system to maintain water supply during the day which reduced the reliance on generators that are used to pump water at night.

According to Muyunda, the ministry’s efforts have led to a noticeable improvement in water levels, providing essential relief to the hippos and other wildlife.

He added that MEFT officials are busy adapting management strategies while also monitoring the situation to ensure the survival of the affected species until the next flood season.

Muyunda also acknowledged the contribution of 200 litres of fuel from the Kwando Carnivore Project, which has supported the continued operation of the pumps.

At the same time, Libanda urged local fishermen to avoid dumping fishnets in the rivers because the nets pose additional risks to the already vulnerable wildlife.

He stressed the continued support from all stakeholders in the region to tackle environmental challenges posed by the drought.

“There has not been an inflow of water in the pond this year due to poor rainfall patterns. We are committed to ensuring the survival of the hippos. We will continue to monitor the situation and devise appropriate measures as the situation detects,” he said.

Muyunda said the MEFT along with its partners will always work to ensure that the wildlife of Namibia will be able to survive the challenging conditions.

The crisis gained attention earlier this week when it was reported that severe drought conditions left hundreds of hippos stranded in mud, unable to access water.

According to Fabian Libanda, the conservancy manager of Salambala Community Conservancy, the region’s rivers did not experience sufficient flooding this year which exacerbated the situation.

“In response, the Ministry collaborated with the Salambala Community Conservancy and Botswana’s wildlife and police departments to manage and mitigate the crisis,” he said.

Libanda stressed the situation’s urgency and the collaborative efforts to install additional boreholes in the pond areas of the flood plains along the two rivers.

He called for immediate support from conservation partners to prevent further wildlife losses, emphasising that other animals such as elephants, zebras, and buffaloes are also suffering due to the lack of water.

Related Posts