In the News...
May 2008

The World Conservation

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This month's stories:

“Surfing” South African Hippo Draws Attention

Residents, visitors and wildlife experts in the resort area of Ballito, near Durban South Africa, are taking in the rare sighting of a hippo that has been roaming the beaches and spending time in the ocean.  Game officials, however, are quick to warn onlookers not to get too close a view.

Jeff Gaisford, of KwaZulu-Natal Ezemvelo Wildlife, advised, "People must keep their distance and not agitate it in any way. They tend to get nasty when they're angry, and we don't want people getting close to it."

The hippo has been seen to the north near Richards Bay in recent weeks but was steadily moving south down the coastline stopping at beaches and estuaries along the way.
Surfing Hippo

According to Gaisford, "It is very unusual for hippos to take to the sea and move along the coastline, and we have been monitoring the animal…We have staff watching the animal just to see what it is doing. As soon as we have a sense of what the hippo is going to do, we will take appropriate action. We are hoping it will go back to where it came from. If human life is threatened, we will be forced to destroy it."

Unfortunately, the hippo's life is at risk as he moves further south because he is coming closer to humans and may run out of food.  Lionel van Schoor from KZN Wildlife says they are doing whatever they can to protect and preserve this animal.  But darting and relocation was not an option.

“Hippos don't take well to darting” Mr van Schoor explained, “they die of stress and this one would drown if we darted her in the water, and if we tried to dart her on the beach, she would run into the water for safety and again drown when the drug takes effect.”
"It is a matter of waiting and hoping." says Mr Van Schoor.

Source: and Wick, J. of – 25 May 2008 and – 27 May 2008

No Water, No Vote

Residents of Mgababa village, South Africa, have never had access to clean drinking water.

Instead, they continue to collect water directly from the Elands River near Ngodwana in Mpumalanga, where two hippos have been known to attack residents.

"We want services now. We don't deserve to be treated like this by the government that we voted for," says one resident, Loster Mgwenya.

Ward committee member for Ward 12, Alfred Mgwenya, said the committee had reported the matter to the municipality several times, but without any success.  He said residents were threatening to boycott the general elections next year unless they obtained access to clean water. 

Sources: Nyathi, S. of – 21 May 2008

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Hippo, Maggie, dies at 34

A necropsy is planned for a hippopotamus that was euthanized this week at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

The 34-year-old Nile hippo, named Maggie, was euthanized late on 6 May after veterinarians determined she was suffering from arthritis and probable kidney failure.
The zoo released the following statement,

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is sad to report that Maggie, the Zoo's 34-year-old Nile hippopotamus, lost her battle with mounting health complications and was euthanized overnight. Maggie, the Zoo's grand-matriarchal hippopotamus was plagued with chronic lameness and arthritis.

The Zoo's Director of Conservation and Animal Health, Dr. Della Garelle stated, "the decision to euthanize Maggie was made due to her deteriorating body condition and the discomfort she was experiencing with her arthritis in her hind quarters. Her chronic lameness had resulted in a significant weight loss and a general loss of body condition. In the end, her age could have also been a factor in her down turn in health." The life span for a hippopotamus is approximately 35-40 years.

Animal Care Manager Roxanna Breitigan remarked, "She was a tough old girl and was definitely grandma-in-charge." Ms. Bretigan, who is the care supervisor for the Zoo's hippos also said, "She had a good life and had a lot of babies. The Zoo's vet and animal staffs did all that was possible to treat Maggie and keep her comfortable during her illness. Everyone loved Maggie, she will be missed so much."

The zoo says she enjoyed getting her teeth brushed and was fond of melons, peanut butter sandwiches and "ice treats."

Source:  7 May 2008 and 8 May 2008

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