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South Africa in “Severe” Drought: To relieve impact Rangers kill 350 Hippos, Buffalos in Wildlife Park

South Africa's parks service stopped killing elephants to reduce overpopulation in 1994, partly because of public opposition

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a herd of buffalo pass by in the Kruger National Park, South Africa, Aug. 7, 2016. Rangers are killing about 350 hippos and buffalo in an attempt to relieve the impact of a severe drought. VOA

Rangers in South Africa’s biggest wildlife park are killing about 350 hippos and buffalos in an attempt to relieve the impact of the region’s most severe drought in more than three decades.

The numbers of hippos and buffalos in Kruger National Park, about 7,500 and 47,000 respectively, are at their highest level ever, according to the national parks service. Officials plan to distribute meat from the killed animals to poor communities on the park’s perimeter.

The drought has left millions of people across several countries in need of food aid.

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Hippos and buffalos consume large amounts of vegetation, and many animals are expected to die anyway because of the drought, said Ike Phaahla, a parks service spokesman. A drought in the early 1990s reduced Kruger park’s buffalo population by more than half to about 14,000, but the population rebounded.

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Rangers are targeting hippos in “small natural pools where they have concentrated in unnatural high densities, defecate in the water, making it unusable to other animals,” Phaahla wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

Parks officials have described drought as a natural way of regulating wildlife populations. Earlier this year, they said they didn’t plan any major intervention to try to save wild species in Kruger park, but the drought’s impact intensified. Hippos are in particular trouble because they can’t feed as widely as other animals, returning to water by day after grazing by night.

South Africa’s parks service stopped killing elephants to reduce overpopulation in 1994, partly because of public opposition.

Around 1900, hunting had cleared out elephants in the area that became Kruger park. Today, there are an estimated 20,000 elephants there. Poachers killed 36 elephants this year in the park, raising concerns that the Africa-wide slaughter of elephants for their ivory is finally affecting South Africa.

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Poachers have already killed large numbers of rhinos in the park, which borders Zimbabwe and Mozambique and is almost the size of Israel.

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Generations ago, an estimated 15,000 people lived in the area that was officially proclaimed as Kruger park in 1926. Some communities were removed from the wildlife reserve under white minority rule at that time.

“These people were pure hunter-gatherers and we greatly underestimate their role in shaping this ecosystem,” Phaahla said. “We have removed this important driver from the Kruger ecosystem and we are researching ways to simulate the return of their role again and the removals or offtakes (of some animals) aim to do just that.” (VOA)

  • Anubhuti Gupta

    This just goes to show overpopulation is a menace in each and every kind of community. Such a large scale killing breaks my heart

  • Manthra koliyer

    The animals should not be attacked due to droughts. I wonder what is the BLUE CROSS doing?

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COVID-19 Has Caused a “Natural State of Disaster”: South Africa

South Africa: 'National State of Disaster,' says President Cyril Ramaphosa due to coronavirus pandemic

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South Africa has declared a “national state of disaster” because of COVID-19. Pixabay

South Africa has declared a “national state of disaster” because of COVID-19. This is the latest breaking news around the world.

“Given the scale and the speed at which the virus is spreading, it is now clear that no country is immune from the disease or will be spared its severe impact,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Sunday.

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his State of the Nation Address in Cape Town amid COVID-19. VOA

South Africa has 61 cases of the disease.  Ramphosa said 50 of the cases were contracted by people who had traveled abroad, but the rest were contracted within South Africa.  “It is concerning that we are now dealing with internal transmission of the virus,” he said.

The president said the disease could have a “potentially lasting” effect on South Africa.

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In an effort to limit South Africans’ exposure to the COVID-19, South Africa has imposed a travel ban on foreign nationals from high-risk countries.  Those countries include Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and China.  The ban will begin March 18, the president said.

In addition, South Africa closed 35 of its 53 land ports Monday. (VOA)