By: Kebba Ansu Manneh
A stray hippopotamus has attacked a herd of cattle in Janjanbureh and injured four cattle; a local herdsman informed TAT.
Samba Koyo Kandeh, in an exclusive interview, told this online newspaper that the incident happened last Saturday night.
He said the hippo strayed into where his animals were tethered for the night and attacked them, injuring four.
Such conflicts between hippos and humans, known as human-wildlife conflict, are still being discovered in the country’s Central River Region (CRR).
They are primarily between farmers and hippos and frequently occur when the wild animals, whose abode is the freshwater areas of the River Gambia, come on land and stray into rice fields, usually causing a lot of damage to the food crop.
“It was around 2 a.m. when my brother called my attention that the cattle were making a lot of noise and that we should go and see what was happening.
“As we approached the herd, we saw the hippo attacking one of the animals, which was wounded. We acted and managed to scare the hippo, which scurried away.
“We then inspected the herd and realized four severely wounded cattle, two with life-threatening injuries. We reported the matter to the local office of the Wildlife Department in the morning, who came to the place and gave us advice.”
The herdsman revealed that this was the third time his herd was attacked by hippos, recalling that it occurred in 2016 and in 2017 when one bull died, and many others got wounded.
Kandeh wants the government to help rice farmers and herders by stopping the hippo attacks in the region, where the human neighbors of the wild animals fall victim every year.
He said hippos searching for food usually destroy crops in the field and attack and injure cattle without compensation from the state.
Musa Jobarteh, at the Department of Wildlife office in Janjanbureh, confirmed the incident in a telephone interview.
He said Wildlife officials visited the area and advised the herders to avoid another attack.
According to him, with support from the NEMA project, the government department erected barriers in many CRR communities to stop the hippos.
He said such human-wildlife conflicts continue in the region, including in the Janjanbureh, Jahally Parcharr, Bansang, and in areas up to Kuntaur and Kaur, all affected by hippos.
Humans intrude into the habitat of the hippos, which local farmers are cultivating. The result is conflicts between the hippos and humans, which remain unabated in most parts of CRR,” the Wildlife officer told TAT.
“Our advice to farmers and herdsmen is to avoid the trails and grazing areas of hippos and other wildlife animals to prevent conflict.
“The Wildlife Department does everything to sensitize farmers and herdsmen to minimize the damage they incur when hippos strike.”