Hippo dies during relocation after capture in Fourways

A hippo, possibly Hartbeespoort Dam’s famous Harpo the Hippo, sadly died after it was captured in Fourways the past weekend.

The hippo died in transit to its new home in a nature reserve.

The hippo was captured in Steyn City in Fourways on Saturday after it appeared in the estate the previous week. According to Richard Mitchell of the Steyn City Management Association (SCMA), the hippo was spotted in the estate on Tuesday after it had been seen around the area since December last year.

“As soon as the SCMA learnt of the sighting, it began tracking the hippo’s movements along the Jukskei River and into its dams with cameras and infrared drones. The hippo later moved on to Steyn City’s golf course, in close proximity to the residents’ homes. With the safety of both the animal and residents in mind, the SCMA contacted the relevant nature conservation authority to seek consent for its relocation,” he said.

On Saturday, after obtaining the necessary permits, the hippo was darted and captured under the supervision of trained veterinarians and representatives from nature conservation authorities.

“However, the veterinarians responsible for the relocation of the hippo later advised that the hippo sadly died while in transit as a result of breathing complications. It was a devastating blow to our team on the ground, as well as the specialised task team who had done everything possible to protect this hippo. After a long and strenuous day, we had hoped for a good outcome and a happy ending.”

Harpo the Hippo first appeared in Hartbeespoort Dam at the beginning of 2019. Numerous attempts to capture and relocate the animal failed. Harpo became famous in December 2020 when well-known private investigator Mike Bolhuis offered to protect the hippo after rumours surfaced that the animal was to be shot by authorities.

The hippo seemed to have left the dam during the same time and soon after a hippo, believed to be Harpo, appeared on the banks of the Klein Jukskei River in Chartwell. In January the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) joined the conservation departments of Gauteng and North West in the search for the elusive hippo.

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