NAMIBIA: WILDLIFE/NBC/12/10/17 SABANews 1
RUNDU – A mysterious disease outbreak, which authorities currently suspect to be anthrax, threatens to wipe out the hippo population in the BWABWATA National Park in North-eastern NAMIBIA.
The Environment and Tourism Public Relations Officer has issued a statement saying the outbreak needs not affect tourism; although warning people to avoid touching or eating the meat of the dead animals.
ROMEO MUYUNDA says there is no health risk for visitors to the region because the affected parts of the Park are not open to the public, but are exclusive areas for wildlife management only.
However, he has called on tourists to avoid straying near the affected area by any means, while also strongly urging members of the public to avoid consuming or touching the meat – saying it will be catastrophic if they do.
Meanwhile, Mr MUYUNDA says he is concerned about the survival of the hippo as a species, as they continue to die in big numbers.
Environment Permanent Secretary MALAN LINDEQUE has told NBC News the authorities hope the deaths will remain localised in a limited area, because similar outbreaks have occurred before and animals were able to recover fast afterwards.
The NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC website has reported lots of hippos, some lying on their sides, others completely belly up, but all mysteriously dead and partially submerged in a lake; saying what confuses locals even more is how quickly it happened.
It quotes Acting Environment and Tourism Director JOHNSON NDOKOSHO as saying they spotted the FIRST hippo on ONE OCTOBER; and since then at least 100 have turned up dead.
The NAMIBIAN official says the government is carrying out tests to determine the type of disease they are dealing with in the BWABWATA National Park, which is sandwiched between ANGOLA and BOTSWANA./Sabanews/cam