Botswana: Department Rescues Stranded Hippos

Nxaraga — The Department of Wildlife and National Parks is digging a trench which could hold water at Nxaraga to rescue hippos which are reported to be exposed to heat.

Following consultation with the Nxaraga community, an agreement was reached to dig a trench along the river.

In an interview, an official from the department, Dr Comfort Nkgowe confirmed that the community had given them the green light to dig a trench as they were equally concerned about the situation at the pool.

He said the pool, which accommodated 120 hippos, could not hold adequate water from the two boreholes for the to cool themselves hence the decision to dig a deep trench.

Another reason he advanced was low pressure from the boreholes which resulted in water not flowing and being too shallow because they were using solar panels.

The water, he said, could not cover the hippos during the heat.

Recently the department and SAVE Wildlife Conservation Fund Botswana made efforts to drill boreholes in order to pump water into the pond to mitigate the drought impact caused by the drying of the river and other water sources in Ngamiland District.

The severe drought has resulted in territorial fights in Nxaraga and Nxaichai ponds as the hippos were competing for the little resource and some ended up dying.

Dr Nkgowe said the digging of the trench would take a few days, but noted that the equipment used at the site had experienced a breakdown and pleaded with the community to bear with them.

He said they had engaged a mechanic to fix the equipment and assured them that the project would be completed soon, adding that the department was prepared to saving the hippos.

Village chief, Kgosi Gaolatlhe Kgosigaenyatswe concurred that the department consulted them and that they welcomed it because the hippos were struggling to cool themselves due to less water in the pond.

He appreciate efforts by the department and other organisations to save the animals.

Kgosi Kgosigaenyatswe said the community was eager to protect the species as they realised that they had the potential to turn Nxaraga into a tourism destination.

He said Nxaraga attracts visitors over weekends and that the community trust could find a niche to generate income.

He also acknowledged efforts by some individuals and companies to feed the hippos during difficult times.

The drought forced wildlife from their habitats into homesteads, posing a danger to people's lives, but Kgosi Kgosigaenyatswe said there was a 'huge difference since the hippos were watered and enjoying good vegetation.'

Source : BOPA

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