Eight killed by hippos in Rumonge within five months

Eight people have been killed and others injured by hippos in Lake Tanganyika since the beginning of this year in Rumonge and Nyanza-Lac communes of Rumonge province. The population is asking to be fully protected.

A hippopotamus grazing along Lake Tanganyika

Two fishermen died on 12 May in Lake Tanganyika in Busebwa area of Rumonge commune. Four fishermen were in a boat fishing in Lake Tanganyika when a hippopotamus hit their canoe. Two fishermen drowned at the lake while two others who were able to swim survived.

Local authorities indicated that these fishermen were fishing in a place where this hippopotamus kept its babies. “This hippopotamus defended itself. By destroying this canoe, it wanted to protect its offspring from these intruders.

According to administrative sources a 15-year-old teenager was literally cut in half by a furious hippo three weeks ago in Nyanza-Lac commune, Kabondo district along Lake Tanganyika. He was swimming in the shallow waters where this animal kept its calves.

The victim’s family wanted to take revenge by mobilizing neighbors to kill the hippo but Melchior Munama, head of the Burundian Office for Environmental Protection (OBPE) prevented them from committing the crime by telling them that the young man, by mistake, had unfortunately violated the hippo’s natural habitat.

Another young man died a month ago near the fishing port of Kayengwe area, Minago Zone of Rumonge commune almost in the same circumstances.

People living along the shoreline of the lake are worried about the increased mobility of hippopotamuses saying that during the night and even during the day, they do not hesitate to cross RN3 Bujumbura-Nyanza-Lac road in search for pasture.
Ndimubandi, a resident of Rutumo area in Rumonge commune complains: “Hippos leave the lake and graze in my fields near the lake.”

He says these animals can no longer find grass to graze at the edge of the lake because crops have invaded Lake Tanganyika encroaching on the middle of these animals.
These hippos currently cause traffic accidents on RN3 road where a hippopotamus collided with a transport bus in Kabezi commune. People were killed and others wounded, says the same source. This animal was looking for grass.

“Failure to respect the buffer zone”

Mr Munama says the hippos are violent against people because the 150 m- wide- buffer zone that separates their natural habitat and fields of culture was not respected.
“This space has been exploited; there are houses and cultivated fields. This is the violation of the Code of the environment. The living environment of these hippos is threatened. They defend themselves, “he says.

He advises people living near the lake to respect the buffer zone. “Otherwise binding measures will be taken to fully protect Lake Tanganyika’s ecosystems “.
This OBPE official advises fishermen to wear life jackets to prevent drowning in case of hippo attacks.

Written by Félix Nzorubonanya and translated by

Lorraine Josiane Manishatse