'Don't approach the Fourways hippo,' warns Endangered Wildlife Trust

26 January 2021 - 06:00 By belinda pheto
The Wildlife Endangered Trust says the hippo is a dangerous animal and has cautioned people to not approach it.
The Wildlife Endangered Trust says the hippo is a dangerous animal and has cautioned people to not approach it.
Image: 123RF/Jatesada Natayo

The Endangered Wildlife Trust says it is concerned about the safety of people and of the hippo seen wandering in Fourways.

EWT’s Constant Hoogstad said that though they were worried the hippo might get hurt while it is in that area, they were also concerned it might cause serious injuries to people.

“It’s a two-way street. We are worried about the safety of the hippo and also concerned about people’s lives,” he said.

Earlier on Monday there were reports on social media that the hippo had been killed and eaten, but Hoogstad said this was not true.

“We established that what was being shared was from an incident in Kenya a while back,” he told TimesLIVE.

He cautioned people to immediately contact authorities should they spot the hippo and advised them against trying to do anything to it themselves. “People must contact EWT or the Gauteng agriculture and rural development department because we are both experienced in dealing with dangerous animals,” he said.

Hoogstad cautioned people against approaching the animal and said that might put further stress on it and increase the risk of injury to the animal and people. Giving the animal food or approaching it was not advisable, he said, and people should stay as far away from it as possible.

Hoogstad said wild animals were common around the northern farms of Joburg but stated that the hippo wandered too far this time around as it was spotted around Chartwell.

“Wild animals do come and go in that area because of its proximity to the Crocodile River,” he said.

Hoogstad said EWT is lending support to the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development with the continuous monitoring of a Hippopotamus seen moving in and around residential areas in northern Johannesburg since December.

He said as a registered remote pilot aircraft systems (RPAS) operator,  EWT is in a unique position to offer aerial imagery services using RPAS (drones) so that the authorities are better able to monitor the movements and safety of the hippo. He said they were in contact with Northern Farm MTB, where the hippo was last seen, and they are providing support for the monitoring effort on the ground.

He said the animal is suspected of having moved up the river system from the Hartbeespoort Dam area and, when water levels are high enough, it is not uncommon for hippos to cover great distances in their pursuit of food.

He said this particular hippo was sighted in the Chartwell area several times in December, and seen after that moving back towards Lanseria and Hartbeespoort.

“There is, therefore, every expectation that the hippo will move back in its own time,” he said.