ZIMBABWE – At least five hippopotamuses have been found dead under unclear circumstances in Zimbabwe’s largest manmade lake, Lake Kariba, with hunger stricken villagers reportedly feasting on the dead mammals.

There are great fears that the hippopotamuses commonly referred to as the ‘water horses’ may have died of anthrax which if consumed by humans may kill them.

Reports suggest that more of these animals might have died although only five have so far been found dead at different intervals of Lake Kariba.

Kariba Animal Welfare Trust spokesperson Debbie Outmen confiemed the death of the five water horses.

He said the carcasses were recovered at different points along lake Kariba.

“The cause of death has not yet been established and investigations are being done,” said Debbie.

A villager only identified as Mr Matonsi said locals surrounding the dam were feasting on the carcasses, obviously unaware of possible health hazards.

“Kariba rural is one of the most neglected areas by government, we rarely receive food aid due to the poor road network here. So during this time of the season hunger is the order of the day here and people are feasting on the dead hippopotamuses,” he said.

Mr Matonsi said people were unfazed by the health implications as long as their tummy were full.

Epidemiologist Melissa Marx, an assistant professor of international health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said, “Anthrax infection in wildlife is actually fairly common.”

Kariba Animal Welfare Trust also recently assisted local residents and rangers from Zimbabwe’s Parks and Wildlife Management Authority to extract two Hippo calves from holes which they were trapped in.

Credit : ZW news`1

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