Cape Town - South African National Parks (SANParks) is calling on visitors to help to locate snared animals in the Kruger National Park, after a week of searching for a seriously injured hippo.
According to William Mabasa, head of communications for SANParks, rangers have been looking for a snared hippo in the region of Lake Panic for more than a week without any success. Photos of the snared animal was first shared to social media platforms online, showing the animal with a steel wire around its neck.
Mabasa says, "We would like to request that anybody who can spot this hippo again, phone the emergency number on the permit, and report it so that Rangers can rush to the scene.
The Kruger National Park admin office can be reached on 013 735 4000 during office hours.
Kruger visitor Hannelie de Wet shared the following disturbing photo to the official SANParks - Kruger National Park Facebook page on 10 July, saying they reported the incident to rangers. The animal was spotted on the S42 near Skukuza.
Three days later, concerned visitor Maryke Venter wrote on the group again saying, "We were at Lake Panic close to Skukuza in the Kruger Park again and that hippo with the snare is still there. It can barely walk out the water and the birds are pecking at the open wound..."
"The hippo looks worse than on Sunday, [10 July]. We reported it again and no response!"
"We tried several times during the day to contact the rangers on duty and left messages, but still no response. I really feel sorry for that animal, for it is struggling and don't think it will survive long."
According to Lesley Nyawo , SANParks public relations assistant, the park will always communicate with the Rangers until an animal has been relieved of a snare. "We are on the lookout for animals with snares and will do everything possible using the applicable legislation to save the animals," she told Traveller24.
"Kruger National Park is nearly two million hectares, animals roam freely hence it takes time to locate animals with snares."
Following the hippo sighting, Kruger visitor John Swanepoel wrote to Traveller24 sharing another video of a snared animal.
When seeing the snared buffalo, he "immediately reported it to the rangers at Punda Maria rest camp," he says.
"I was hoping for immediate action from them, but they just said that they will report it to the vet who will investigate the next day.
Mabasa told Traveller24 the ranger at Punda Maria has been informed about the animals and will be on the lookout for it.
Swanepoel says, "The snare was probably intended to catch a Impala or small antelope for bush meat. Unfortunately a buffalo was the victim. He broke loose by force as you can see the damage to his neck but in the proses the end of the snare got hooked on his foot making it difficult for it to walk. As he give a step then the wire cut into his neck."
WARNING: The footage contains very graphic imagery
SANParks also announced earlier that the Kruger National Park had to start culling hippo and was preparing to cull buffalo in the park too due to food shortages in the wake of the ongoing drought.
This was according to Reynold Thakhuli for SANParks, who confirmed that the culling process has started. He said over 150 hippo and 200 buffalo may have to be culled this year.
On 10 July, Kruger visitor Evelyn Visage shared another heartbreaking image from a different part of the park near the S100. The image had been taken two weeks ago.
Visage said they "saw 15 hippos just standing there awaiting death. It was obvious from the smell that some had already died. Since then, I have seen several reports on various Kruger group on these hippos. Their situation is deteriorating daily. Please be so kind to put these animals out of their misery. Cull them please!"
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