Crime & Accidents News
02 April 2024

Rustenburg – In a follow-up to the hippo sighting reported in the 8 March 2024 issue of Platinum Weekly, the story of the wandering hippopotamus near the Kroondal offramp on the N4 has come to a sad conclusion.

Originally spotted on the morning of 4 March 2024, the Department of Economic Development, Environment, Conservation, and Tourism (DEDECT) initiated an urgent search to ensure the safety of the community and the hippo itself, enlisting the help of locals to track its movements. Vasti Botha, a Damage Causing Animal (DCA) official, had shared insights into the search efforts in an interview with Platinum Weekly.

However, on Saturday morning 23 March 2024, a concerned citizen noticed the hippo in a dam where children were fishing, prompting immediate action. 

Petra de Jager, a resident of Hexrivier Lifestyle Estate (close to Kroondal) and an eyewitness to the subsequent events, recounted that the animal was found in a dam at the entrance to the estate. The presence of a crowd, including police, initially led her to believe it was a routine check for illegal fishing. It was only later she learned of the hippo’s fate.

De Jager revealed her shock upon discovering that the decision had been made not to relocate the animal but to euthanise it. The hippo’s meat was donated to the community, a decision that, while practical, did not sit well with everyone, especially those who witnessed the process.

Explaining the rationale behind the decision, Vasti Botha highlighted the challenges of relocating hippos. Given their social structure, a relocated hippo is likely to face aggression or even death from established groups. 

The euthanasia method was deemed efficient and humane under the circumstances. Botha further noted that while chemical capture and relocation efforts have been attempted, such endeavours are fraught with difficulties, including high costs and risks to the animal’s welfare.

DEDECT emphasises the importance of balancing wildlife protection with public safety. Hippos, despite their popularity, pose a significant risk to humans, responsible for numerous fatalities each year in Africa. The public is strongly advised against interacting with these dangerous animals.
Jeremia Matebesi, DEDECT’s communications director, issued a stern warning about the risks hippos pose to human life, underscoring the need for caution and respect for wildlife, even in tragic circumstances like this.

As the community reflects on this event, the conversation continues about how best to manage the coexistence of people and wildlife, ensuring safety and compassion for all beings involved.

Photo: In this sombre image, the hippo that captured the attention of Rustenburg residents is seen for the last time, marking a tragic end to its journey. 

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