Heroic hippo rescue bid at St Lucia fails
A DARING bid to save the life of a hippo being strangled by a thick snare failed to bring about the desired result at St Lucia on Thursday.
The animal, with a heavy cable chocking its neck, had been seen by estuary cruise boat operators and their guests for a number of weeks.
Attempts to find and dart the animal on land at night proved fruitless as the hippo managed to elude discovery.
Trying to capture the huge beast while it was in the water was the only option – but one that was filled with risk.
However, and with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife veterinarian Dave Cooper on standby, brave crew and volunteers aboard the cruise boat Fannas, using prodders and ropes, were able to separate the victim from the large pod of hippos in the estuary and dart and capture it.
They succeeded in removing the noose but the emaciated animal failed to survive the trauma of its ensnarement.
‘What happened then was quite unreal,’ said Fannas skipper Deiric Walsh.
‘There was palpable relief among the others in the hippo pod, as though they sensed the casualty’s suffering was over.
’All the tension and agitation amid the pod seemed to disappear in moments.’
The incident highlighted the continual threat to the town’s wildlife, with poachers targeting hippo both for their meat and for their oil.
The steel snare cut deeply into the animal’s neck
The brave rescue attempt in progress