Botswana Acts With Boldness: Pumps Water In Dry River To Rescue Stranded Hippos

– Local conservation efforts, spearheaded by the Maun-based Save Wildlife Conservation Fund, are pumping water into the lagoon and providing daily sustenance to the hippos. 

– The crisis is particularly acute at the Nxaraga lagoon near Maun, where over 200 hippos are stranded due to receding water levels. 

Staff Reporter, in Gaborone Botswana

Botswana’s wildlife faces a dire threat as hundreds of endangered hippos become trapped in shrinking ponds and mudflats due to a severe El Nino-induced drought. This environmental crisis spotlights the challenges confronting Botswana’s vast hippo population, one of the largest globally.

The crisis is particularly acute at the Nxaraga lagoon near Maun, where over 200 hippos are stranded due to receding water levels. 

The Save Wildlife Conservation Fund, located in Maun, is leading local conservation efforts that include pumping water into the lagoon and giving the hippos daily nourishment. 

These measures are essential since hippos depend on water to stay hydrated as well as to protect their delicate skin from the intense heat.

Although moving the hippos to more stable water sources, such as the Okavango Delta, seems like a good idea, it is not practicable due to the enormous costs and financial limitations. 

A few environmentalists, like as Map Ives, support a non-intervention strategy, contending that although some hippos will always die, this is a natural process that shouldn’t be disturbed by human activity.

A further element of intricacy arises from the fact that several hippos are trapped in the mud when the Chobe’s water levels drop. 

Meanwhile Namibian authorities are collaborating with Botswana to drill boreholes to replenish the drying channel.

The crisis extends far beyond the hippos, impacting the entire region’s ecosystem. The El Nino drought has devastated food sources and critical habitats for a variety of wildlife across southern Africa. 

This underscores the urgent need for comprehensive regional strategies to tackle the impacts of climate change on both the environment and the wildlife dependent on it.

Hippos in Botswana have previously faced similar dangers. Despite efforts to replenish the pools, more than 200 hippos were left stranded at the Nxaraga hippo pool in September 2019.

Rivers dried up as a result of the drought, pushing crocodiles and hippos to look for water in new areas. The conflict between humans and wildlife increased as a result of numerous animals dying and others entering human settlements. 

Nxaraga communities raised concerns about the deteriorating situation, with animal carcasses scattered across the landscape. They felt the Department of Wildlife and National Parks’ intervention came too late, leaving a large number of hippos without water. 

In response, the department dug trenches to hold water at Nxaraga in March 2020, offering some respite to the heat-stricken hippos.

Botswana’s bold actions to pump water and provide sustenance offer a glimmer of hope for the stranded hippos. However, these interventions serve as a stark reminder of the growing threats posed by climate change to Africa’s wildlife. 

A collaborative regional approach is paramount to ensuring the long-term survival of these magnificent creatures and the ecosystems they inhabit.

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