Heroic hippo res­cue bid at St Lu­cia fails

Zululand Observer - Monday - - ZO NEWS - Dave Sa­vides

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

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