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Dublin: 7 °C Tuesday 18 February, 2020

Anthrax is being blamed for the sudden deaths of over 100 hippos in Namibia

Despite its notoriety as a biological weapon, anthrax is a bacterial disease that can be fatal for African wildlife.

Hippopotami are a common sight on the Okavango River in Namibia.
Hippopotami are a common sight on the Okavango River in Namibia.
Image: DPA/PA Images

OVER 100 HIPPOS have died in Namibia in a remote national park in the past week, with the country’s environment minister warning that anthrax could be to blame.

Images from the Bwabwata national park in northeast Namibia showed dozens of
lifeless hippos, some flat on their backs, others with just their heads visible above
murky water.

“Over 100 hippos died in the past week. The cause of death is unknown but the signs
so far show that it could be anthrax,” Pohamba Shifeta told AFP.

He said the toll could be higher as crocodiles might have eaten some of the

“Our veterinary services are currently working at the area to determine the cause of
death. Once we have the results of the cause of death than we can decide on the way
forward,” Shifeta said.

Anthrax is a bacterial disease commonly associated with arid climates like the African
savannah where it kills game, cattle, and sometimes humans.

Government officials estimated that Namibia’s hippo population was around 1,300
before the mass death.

The minister added that he would be alarmed if there were any further hippo deaths at
the national park which is one of the country’s foremost tourist attractions.

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