8 August 2014

Gambia: Farmers Lament Hippo Rampage in CRR

Crr — Local farmers in the Central River Region (CRR) south recently marched to the Office of the Governor to once again report the persistent menace of hippo rampage in the area.

In a meeting with Governor Omar Khan, the farmers said attacks by hippos in the village of Sambang had caused great panic among local dwellers, forcing women to abandon their fields.

The chief of the area, Ngai Dampha, said hippos had threatened the lives of their women at the rice fields in Sambang on two occasions. He revealed that on the third day of the assault, the hippos followed their cattle up to their backyard, which was about 20 meters away from the village.

"When the hippos were going back, they went through our herd of cattle and dispersed them. Thanks to the intervention of some villagers, the hippos didn't harm any cattle," he told the governor.

The chief appealed to the authorities for urgent help, warning that lack of timely intervention could result in fatalities in the village.

One Dicko Bah, a women leader in Sambang, Nguga Kunda, Metta Keita, Fatoumatta Wally, and Jainaba Jallow, all expressed similar concerns. They all narrated their ordeal with hippos, informing the governor that the wild animals attacked them while they were working on their rice fields.

The women farmers further expressed concern that if nothing is done to arrest the situation, hippos could hinder their farming activities. They appealed for urgent help especially given the fact that four in the area own the rice field in which they were attacked.

Responding, the governor assured that his office would write to the Department of Parks and Wildlife about the matter. He urged them to be patient, as their problem will be addressed as quickly as possible. Khan said his office has been receiving similar complaints from other villages, and assured them that everything will be put under control.

Hippos are the largest mammals in The Gambia. At sunset, they leave the water and travel over land to graze. They can travel for six kilometers in a night along single file pathways to graze an average of 35-40 kilograms of grass. Considering their enormous size, a hippo's intake is relatively low. If threatened on land, they take refuge and run for the water and they match a human's speed for short distances.

Hippos possess short, stumpy legs, and barrel shaped bodies. They have large heads, with broad mouths, and nostrils placed at the top of the snout. Hippos are ungulate, although unlike most other such animals, they have no hooves, instead using a pad of tough connective tissue.

Their stomach has three chambers, but they are not true ruminants. While they resemble pigs physiologically, their closest living relatives are actually the whales.

The length of a hippo is about 3.3 to 5 meters; the shoulder height is 1.6 meters, weight 3-to 3.5tons. The main threats are increase in human population and increase land conservation for rice cultivation.


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