Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Surfing Hippo endangers itself

Poor Hippo - he's just having some fun. And that may end up costing him his life. I hope the wildlife rangers can think up some solution other than killing the animal.

(Image from Reuters)

A footloose hippopotamus which has been tracked down the South African coast for months has fascinated locals by surfing in the waves. The hippo has repeatedly swum in the breaking waves but was finally captured on film by a local photographer near the east coast holiday town of Ballito yesterday. The creature, which can weigh almost two tons, paddled in the white water and swam as the force carried him forwards.

The hippo, thought to be an adult male, has been moving south since March but is now approaching the outskirts of Durban. Lionel van Schoor, a wildlife ranger from KZN Wildlife, a conservation group in KwaZulu-Natal, warned it might have to be shot dead if it did not turn around because they could not use tranquiliser darts. He said: "This one would drown if we darted him in the water, and if we tried to dart him on the beach, he would run into the water for safety and again drown when the drug takes effect. "If the hippo moves any further south there is huge risk. If he does not retrace his own steps and move back north, there is little hope for him."

Hippos, whose name comes from the Greek for "river horse", have been recorded surfing before but only very rarely. They generally prefer fresh water. (Telegraph)

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