WATCH | Hippos invade lush, green rugby pitch

31 May 2019 - 16:06 By MATTHEW SAVIDES

No sooner had the Letaba Rugby Club's first team left the pitch on Wednesday night, when another group of burly characters made their way onto the pitch - a herd of hippos.

Video footage of the friendly pitch invasion in Tzaneen, Limpopo, was shared on the Facebook page of the Far North Bulletin newspaper, and had racked up more than 36,000 views and been shared more than 1,000 times.

Joe Dreyer, editor of the publication, told TimesLIVE on Friday that having hippo in the town was not uncommon. But what was rare, he said, was getting them on video.

The club's field, he explained, was at the town's showgrounds, which was right on the banks of the Letaba River - "and hippo live in the river".

"It's something cool for tourists… but for us here in Limpopo it's an everyday occurrence. We get hippo, elephant and warthog," he said.

Dreyer said that because it got darker earlier in winter, the hippos made their way onto the field earlier than they normally would, which meant they could be captured on film.

"Hippos are nocturnal animals that feed at night. With construction in the Tzaneen area at the moment, especially the Tzaneen dam, their feeding grounds are cordoned off. They will walk many kilometres to eat. You know, the rugby fields are lush and green and have lekker stuff to chow. As the 1st team rugby guys finished their practice, these boys came up from the river and started grazing.

"From the rugby club, there's a nice pub. One of the guys filmed it for us. Basically it's an every night occurrence now. Normally we don't get to see them because people are in bed already or in summer it's dark later. We always know they're there, but nobody filmed them," he said.

And would they be back?

"They will probably be there tonight, and they were probably there last night, we were lucky that this time one of the players was there and filmed them for us," Dreyer said on Friday.