Lake Ngami – A Death Trap!

Date:

  • 7 hippos die of starvation and thirst as the lake dries up
  • 12 hippos remain stranded at the lake
  • Active translocation mooted

Lake Ngami is almost dry, and this has brought back the 2019 situation where wildlife and domestic animals died following the drying up of the lake and like that year, the water from the Okavango system through Kunyere has not arrived as expected.

Hippos and cattle are the most affected of the animals using the Lake, and again they are dying as they struggle to navigate the muddy paddles of the very little that remains to quench their thirst. The mud presents a challenge and they end up stuck and eventually die.

A visit to the lake gives one a devastating feeling at the sad sight of hippos and domestic animals fighting for the remaining little water.

Some hippos have reportedly relocated further upstream in search of water sources, and in the process have come into direct contact and conflict with humans and domestic animals.

Department of wildlife and national parks acting regional wildlife officer, Modiri Mogopa has confirmed the drying up of Lake Ngami, which has presented a challenge for hippos. He revealed that they have so far recorded seven deaths of hippos due to starvation and thirst. He noted that six of the animals were adults while the 7th one was a calf.

In their efforts to mitigate the effects of the dry lake on hippos, the department has from mid-October this year began feeding around twelve hippos which remain at the lake, while also providing them with fresh drinking water so that they do not enter mud puddle looking for water.

He explained that the intention of the feeding program is to ensure that the animals gain sufficient strength to walk away from Lake Ngami to seek other water bodies by themselves, something which he says some hippos have already done.

“If the hippos do not move from the lake by themselves by the end of the first week of November 2022, active capture will be put in place to actively translocate them. This will be implemented by the end of the first week in Nov 2022 timeline however it may be adjusted on the basis of the rainfall forecast,” Mogopa told this publication. 

He noted that the department will be working with local community based organizations, fishermen, and a local NGO, SAVE Wildlife to translocate them.

He further explained that as part of wild animal natural response mechanisms and adaptive capacities, when water bodies dry up animals move to other areas with water, adding that most animals that were at lake have since migrated.

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