The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) has offered their support in assisting the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) in monitoring the whereabouts of Johannesburg’s very own hippopotamus.
The ‘Fourways hippo’ has been spotted in northern Johannesburg since December last year.
EWT will bring technical expertise in the form of a drone onboard the mission to find the hippo.
The animal was last seen in Northern Farm MTB, an outdoor recreational facility near Diepsloot informal settlement.
It is suspected to have used river systems to move from the Hartbeespoort Dam area. Hippos are capable of covering long distances in search for food.
But this sighting is not as strange as it first appeared.
Joburg’s hippo residents
EWT senior manager Constant Hoogstad told The Citizen that there are hippos that have been roaming areas south of Chartwell and along the Crocodile River for many years.
They very rarely get close to people, and it is for this reason that they prefer residing in this area, Hoogstad explained.
In the Northern Farms area where it was most recently seen, Hoogstad said hippos are quite undistributed, due to the thousands of hectares of semi-protected land and sewage works.
“It is dead quiet at night when they feed, and in the day, no one disturbs them.”
Hoogstad dismissed fake news about the hippo being shot and eaten, saying the images used to portray this false update was from an incident that took place in another African country.
We might have the third wave before June because of people who ate the hippo ???? pic.twitter.com/6XCnb9qSP7
— Shonny✊???? (@Shonny_RSA) January 24, 2021
Scenes at fourways after slaughtering that hippo: pic.twitter.com/VWAjsLpP90
— HUEY (@sbudamusic) January 24, 2021
“We’ve dealt with leopards on Hendrik Potgieter. We have reintroduced cheetahs to Rietvlei reserve. There was a hyena in Randburg a few years ago. There is wildlife all around us. But it’s not like there’s a pod of hippos walking around,” Hoogstad said.
The hippo in question likely strayed from a small pod of hippos, he said.
The EWT and GDARD will not be capturing the hippo, as it is likely the hippo will move back to where it came from “in its own time”.
But aerial monitoring bolsters support in ensuring the safety of the hippo and surrounding communities, and can aid in efficiently rescuing the animal, should the need arise.
Residents are once again reminded not to approach the hippo – no matter how good a social media post it will make. This is for their own safety. Hippos are not known to eat meat, but do have frightfully large teeth that could cause significant damage.
Do not lure the hippo with food either.
If you see the hippo, call Constant Hoogstad on 082-334-4176, or Erasmus Nkabinde from GDARD, on 071-257-7481.