Horsemen stormed by hippos in Middelburg

Two men on horseback say they were nearly trampled to death, when they were charged by hippos.

 A recent photo of Mohamed Panchbhai with his horse in the river at the smallholdings next to Eastdene.

A local horseman says he nearly met an untimely death when he came across hippos during a horseback ride in the outskirts of Middelburg. A hippo bull, cow and calf have been spotted in the Klein Olifants river, running through the highveld town in Mpumalanga, in recent weeks.

“Both the horses started to buck during the charge. Colin said afterwards that he had never been so scared in his life,” Mohamed Panchbhai told the Middelburg Observer.

Panchbhai saw in an online article that members of the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency asked people to notify them if they spot the hippos.

He contacted the Middelburg Observer yesterday saying that he saw them over the weekend in the river around the smallholdings at the back of Eastdene.

He took a video over the weekend, showing the hippos in the background on their way to the river.

Panchbhai decided to return to the area to see if the hippos were still there. He and Colin Masobe saddled up around 17:00 yesterday, and approached the area with caution.

They tried to be as quiet as possible as they heard noises coming from the riverside.

“As we approached the riverbed, one of the horses stepped on a branch and it made quite a loud cracking sound,” says Panchbhai.

Colin Masobe was with Mohamed Panchbhai when the hippos charged them.

They heard a big splash in the water and thundering footsteps behind them. Panchbhai and Masobe decided to leave the area.

“The next moment we saw a huge object running right towards us and we both froze out of shock because we didn’t expect it. The minute I realised what was happening, I swerved my horse out of the bushes, and Colin’s horse followed. Luckily, the hippos didn’t follow us because the horses were also trembling with fear.”

Panchbhai said that one hippo came from the riverside, and the other hippo was running towards the river. They did not see the hippo calf.

Panchbhai urges people not to approach the animals.

“They are super territorial,” he warns.

Read original story on mobserver.co.za