NAIROBI( AFP ) - A baby hippopotamus that survived the
tsunami waves on the Kenyan coast has formed a strong
bond with a giant male century-old tortoise in an animal
facility in the port city of Mombassa , officials said
The hippopotamus, nicknamed Owen and weighing about
300 kilograms (650 pounds), was swept down Sabaki
River into the Indian Ocean , then forced back to shore
when tsunami waves struck the Kenyan coast on
December 26, before wildlife rangers rescued him.
'It is incredible. A -less-than-a-year-old hippo has adopted a
male tortoise, about a century old, and the tortoise seems to
be very happy with being a 'mother'', ecologist Paula Kahumbu,
who is in charge of Lafarge Park , told AFP
'After it was swept away and lost its mother, the hippo was traumatized.
It had to look for something to be a surrogate mother
Fortunately , it landed on the tortoise and established a strong bond.
They swim, eat and sleep together,' the ecologist added.
'The hippo follows the tortoise exactly the way it followed its mother
If somebody approaches the tortoise, the hippo becomes aggressive,
as if protecting its biological mother,' Kahumbu added.
'The hippo is a young baby, he was left at a very tender age and
by nature, hippos are social animals that like to stay with their
mothers for four years,' he explained.
'Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,
but by the moments that take our breath away.'
This is a real story that shows that our differences don't matter
much when we need the comfort of another.
We could all learn a lesson from these two creatures of God,
'Look beyond the differences and find a way to walk the path together.'
'Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others, cannot keep it from them selves.
At least 83 hippopotamuses have been poisoned by anthrax at Uganda's most popular game reserve and safari park.
The hippos died at Queen Elizabeth National Park, located in western Uganda and known for its population of around 100 mammal species and 615 species of birds. Apparently it is also the home of the anthrax poison, which emanates from bacteria that live in the soil surrounding one small lake in this vast park.
What Is Anthrax?
Anthrax spores occur naturally in soil and can remain dormant for years. Drought, floods or wind expose the spores and they can be ingested when livestock graze close to the ground.
A Repeat Performance
The park was hit by anthrax poisoning in 2004, when more than 300 hippos died from exposure to the lethal spore-forming bacteria. Tom Okello, area conservation manager for the park, told AFP that lessons were learned in this earlier incident and that officials are close to containing the current problem. "We really have improved," he said. "The situation is under control."
How Does Anthrax Spread?
Six years ago, some scientists believed that the large scale of the infection was caused by cannibalism. The New Scientist quoted Joseph Dudley, a biosecurity and agriculture analyst based in Washington, as saying: "The widespread mortality may be a result of the communal scavenging or 'cannibalism' of carcasses of anthrax-filled hippos by other hippos."
Other veterinarians and scientists believed that the cause lay in over-crowding in the park. As The Daily Telegraph reports, these experts stated that over-population leads to fights over resources, and anthrax can be spread via battle wounds. Flesh-eating vultures and large cats are also known to spread the disease.
Whatever the cause of this outbreak, anthrax poisoning causes high fever and bleeding, amongst other symptoms. Yet park officials have apparently expressed no sadness over these deaths and the suffering the poor animals must have endured. Instead, Okello lost no time in reassuring potential visitors that all is well, since the poisonous bacteria is not near any areas tourists visit.
Pursuing that line, Nicholas Kauta, the national anthrax task force spokesman, was quick to say that no humans were known to have contracted the deadly disease during the outbreak and that tourism had been unaffected.
Maybe I'm being naive, but isn't it the job of people running an animal park to care about and protect both the animals and the visiting humans? Or maybe to show more concern for the animals than the humans, since we people are invading their homes, after all?
Whatever happened to compassion for animals?