The Free State department of economic, small business development, tourism, and Environmental Affairs warned people in the area to be vigilant after eight hippopotamuses went missing from the Bellevue private nature reserve in the Fezile Dabi District Municipality.
According to a spokesperson for the provincial department, Mojalefa Mphapang, the hippos were flooded out of their boma at the reserve following the recent floods in Vierfontein near the Vaal River.
Mphapang explained that ‘the camps were flooded and destroyed, and that was when the hippos went missing.’ He added that the department had already visited the farm to assess the situation, and that communities and farmers in the area had been informed and urged not to confront the animals but to inform the department’s environmental management inspectors when they spot them.
Mphapang also expressed concern about the rising river levels, making searching for the missing hippos more challenging. However, he assured the public that the department would continue to monitor the situation and work closely with other stakeholders, including the farm owner, to locate and recapture the animals.
If anyone spots the missing hippos, they should contact Leepile Gaorekoe at 0799510200 or Dave Hayter on 0795078820, according to the department’s statement.
This is a developing story