Welfare of Hippo - Serious concern for Wildlife UnitWelfare of Hippo –Serious concern for Wildlife Unit

In an article published in the Beeld Newspaper on 30 June 2010 statements were made that the NSPCA has done nothing to alleviate the suffering of two hippo at the Krugersdorp Game Reserve. In response to this,the Wildlife Unit makes the following comment.

Conditions at the Krugersdorp Game Reserve were raised with the NSPCA Wildlife Unit in March 2009. The pollution is a result of acid mine drainage and this is seriously affecting the water quality on the reserve and the wildlife. The complaint was referred to the Johannesburg SPCA (under whose jurisdiction this facility falls) for investigation and monitoring.

In the week of 21 June 2010 the Wildlife Unit was alerted to deteriorating water conditions at the Krugersdorp Game Reserve with concern specifically expressed about the hippo utilising one of the dams.

An inspection undertaken at the Reserve indicated that game species have access to waterholes supplied with borehole water. Game species appeared to be in good condition. A small dam with borehole water is also provided for the hippo. However,at the time of the inspection the hippo were seen swimming in the contaminated water.

Following the scrutiny of photographs taken of the hippo and after consulting a wildlife veterinarian,the Wildlife Unit is of the opinion that the eyesight of the hippo may be affected and has therefore requested that the game reserve seeks the professional opinion of an animal eye specialist in this regard in order that an informed decision can be taken on the future of these animals.

The NSPCA concurs with the general consensus that the pollution on the reserve is unacceptable and detrimental to the health of all living creatures. The best long-term solution for the animals and the Krugersdorp Game Reserve environment is to stop the on-going pollution and clean the water. It is unlikely that this matter is going to be resolved in the near future but this is an issue that is out of the hands of the Reserve and the NSPCA.

In the interim the Wildlife Unit awaits the outcome of the veterinary findings. If the eyesight of the hippos is compromised and it is the considered opinions of veterinarians that these animals will not adapt to new surroundings,then the option of moving them to another facility will not be considered. Other options will then need to be explored.

The NSPCA is putting the welfare of animals first and is committed to acting in the best interests of the two hippo in this crisis situation. It is not about acting the hero and merely moving them to new premises so that a so-called act of mercy can be used as leverage to raise funds. It is the animals that matter. If it was a question of a straight forward capture and relocation this would already have been considered and undertaken in consultation with the Reserve. However,there is more at stake and we need to have the facts and consider professional advice before any recommendations or decisions are made.

According to The Star Newspaper today,The Krugersdorp Game Reserve has been exposed to radioactive and toxic mine water for several years.  They are saying the the reserve should be closed and all it’s wildlife relocated.  The two hippos at the reserve may be partially blind because of long-term exposure to contaminated water from old mining operations.  They are looking into relocating the hippos but if they are partially blind this may be difficult.  The NSPCA is even saying that the hippos need to be euthanased if they are blind.  The animal welfare and government departments have known about the problem for months,yet nothing has been done about it.

Us humans,as the so called intelligent species,certainly have a way of destroying what has been given to us.  When will we realise that the damage we cause will that thousands of years to repair??

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