The Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said that if the hippo that was spotted in the Fourways area on the Jukskei River, presumably Hartbeespoort’s hippo, poses any threat to human life, the department will have no option but to consider putting the animal down, Fourways Review reports.
The hippo was first spotted in Chartwell between 29 and 30 December in the Jukskei River and walking over a road in the area. It is presumed to be Harpo, Hartbeespoort Dam’s hippo, that had gone walkabout over the festive season. Harpo has, according to reports, not been seen in the Hartbeespoort Dam for the past two weeks.
The department has warned members of the public to be vigilant and keep their distance from the animal. It should not be approached or provoked in any way. “Hippos are very aggressive and considered very dangerous. They have large teeth and tusks that they use for fighting off threats, including humans,” spokesperson for the department Nozipho Hlabangana said. “The department has alerted the police together with local conservation practitioners in the area, as well as a private security company that assist in wildlife issues. The department is collaborating with the mentioned stakeholders to monitor the movements of the hippo in and around the mentioned area.”
She said so far the hippo has not caused any damage nor posed a threat to any human of animal lives and that if left in peace, it will return to the area of origin.
In the meantime a specialised task team appointed by the well-known investigator Mike Bolhuis, is following all leads to find the hippo. Bolhuis joined the fight with Hartbeespoort residents to save Harpo, when it came to light in December that the North West Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (DEDECT) has allegedly issued a permit for the hippo in Hartbeespoort Dam to be shot. Bolhuis consulted with local Hartbeespoort conservationists and all efforts are made to remove the hippo to a safe place. Bolhuis is currently raising funds for a planned relocation of the hippo.
People who spot the hippo are requested not to post locations on social media but to send a private WhatsApp message with details such as a photo, exact location and time to 082 458 8627. Follow the Facebook page Hippo at Harties for more information.