As a mitigation measure, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) has drilled three boreholes to pump water into drying ponds to save about 100 stranded hippos that are fighting not only for territorial space, but for survival in the Sampisi River channel that flows from the Linyanti River.
In an interview with New Era yesterday, Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta said the ministry has drilled three boreholes, two of which have been completed and have already started pumping water into the drying ponds to save the trapped animals.
“We started pumping water into the ponds. One borehole will be completed this week. One has been rehabilitated. We will have all ponds filled up with water to save the animals,” said the environment and tourism minister.
Asked about the cost involved, Shifeta said each borehole costs N$204 292.
Last month New Era broke the news that in the Zambezi Region – home to thousands of endangered wildlife animals – the Chobe River is drying up and this is affecting endangered animals, such as hippos and crocodiles.
The lingering drought and the drying up of the river are reportedly driving hippos and crocodiles into new areas as they have to search much further for water, leaving some vulnerable to death.
When asked about the health status of the stranded hippos, Shifeta said the animals are in good condition, noting that there have been no mortalities reported due to a lack of water.
The reported five dead hippos, he explained, did not die from the drought, but rather because of bulls fighting for territorial space. He explained that when bulls fight they prevent their mates from going out and at times get frustrated and end up killing the cows and their calves.
“The animals are fine. There is no death recorded as a result of lack of water. The fighting is also now calmer. We culled some bulls,” he said.
The MET culled two hippo bulls after they were declared problem animals and their meat was distributed some weeks back.
According to Shifeta, apart from hippos and crocodiles, there are many animal species that would benefit from the boreholes. About 100 hippos remain stranded in the Sampisi River channel, which flows from the Linyanti River in the Zambezi Region.
Such worrisome situations were also observed in the Chinchimane and Linyanti areas, particularly in Vamunu Conservancy, where hippos and crocodiles congregate in smaller pools, given that the floodwater did not reach Lake Liyambezi and did not flow into the Linyanti-Kwando River this year.