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Anthrax killed more than 100 hippos in Namibia

Staff Writer |
Namibian officials believe an anthrax outbreak may have caused the deaths of more than 100 hippos in one of the country's national parks.

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The main hippo population in Namibia is in the Caprivi and was estimated at 1,387 animals (2004) of which 872 were in State Protected Areas, 69 in conservancies and the remainder (446) in communal land (2005). Some 390 of these animals should probably be regarded as belonging to neighbouring countries.

"We first noticed the deaths of 10 hippos last week Sunday, but the number increased during the week," Bwabwata National Park director Apollinaris Kannyinga told the Namibian. "As we speak, the number of deaths is 109. We suspect an anthrax outbreak, but our vete­rinary team is still to confirm that."

The New Era reported that hippo carcasses were scattered by a river in the park. However, officials said it's a scene they've seen before.

"It happened in Zambia before and it mainly occurs when the level of the river is so low," said Colgar Sikopo, director of parks and wildlife management at Namibia's Ministry for the Environment and Tourism.

"This is a natural cause and with the animals dying people should not panic, as it won't negatively affect tourism in the area," he added.

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