Drought crisis traps hippos in Botswana

Hippos stuck in mud in Botswana

As the El Nino-driven drought crisis continues to ravage Southern Africa, endangered hippos in Botswana are facing severe survival challenges.

Near Okavango Delta, on the outskirts of Maun, approximately 200 hippos are trapped in rapidly drying ponds, struggling as the heat dries up their essential aquatic environments.

The Maun-based Save Wildlife Conservation Fund and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks in Botswana are trying to rescue the animals by pumping water into the lagoon and providing daily food supplies to the stranded animals.

The organizations said relocating these hippos to areas with more water would be expensive. 

Hippos in Botswana

Botswana is home to one of the world’s largest wild populations of hippos, estimated at between 2,000 and 4,000.

Hippos, or hippopotamuses, are large, primarily herbivorous mammals with barrel-shaped torsos, enormous mouths and teeth, and nearly hairless bodies. They are the third-largest living land mammal by weight, ranging between 1,500 and 3,200 kg.

The animals spend much of their time submerged in rivers and lakes to keep their massive bodies cool under the hot African sun, emerging at dusk to graze on grasses. Despite their stocky shape and short legs, they can run fast and are excellent swimmers.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) currently classifies hippos as vulnerable. They face threats from habitat loss and illegal hunting, particularly for their meat and ivory-canine teeth.

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