Over 100 hippopotamuses have died in Namibia in Bwabwata National Park in the past week, country’s environment minister said on Monday.
Namibian officials believe the sudden deaths may have been caused by anthrax outbreak. Apollinaris Kannyinga, Bwabwata National Park director said that last week Sunday, they noticed the deaths of 10 hippos but the number increased in this week. The number of deaths is 109 but they are not sure and their veterinary team is currently working at the area to determine the cause of death.
Anthrax is a bacterial disease which is associated with arid climates and known for killing big game, cattle, and sometimes humans.
According to the estimation from Government officials, before the mass death hippo population of Namibia was around 1,300.
Director of parks and wildlife management at Namibia’s Ministry for the Environment and Tourism, Colgar Sikopo said that the same case has happened in Zambia before and it mainly occurs during the low level of the river.
“This is a natural cause and with the animals dying people should not panic, as it won’t negatively affect tourism in the area,” said Colgar Sikopo.
Currently Namibian officials are focusing on preventing human exposure to the virus, by restricting contact with the dead hippos and suggesting locals not to eat them. Antibiotics can treat the Anthrax but treatment needs to begin soon after infection.
Scientists believe the death count was extremely high as once hippos started dying, other hippos became anthropophagist ate the corpses.