Namibia destroys dead hippos, buffalos to contain anthrax outbreak
APA-Windhoek (Namibia) - Namibia’s Ministry of Tourism and Environment and the Department of Veterinary Services on Thursday commenced the process of destroying bodies of hippos and buffaloes that have succumbed to an anthrax outbreak in the Bwabwata National Park along the Kavango River in the east of the country.
The ministry said on Thursday that over 100 hippos and several buffaloes have died of anthrax in the Mahango Core Area in the western part of the 6,274 square kilometre long Bwabwata National Park in north-eastern Namibia.
Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta said in a statement that his ministry has started the immediate removal of the dead animals from the river and burning them in an efforts to contain the outbreak.
Shifeta said the government would locate people in the area who might have been exposed to the bacteria through drinking water from the river.
He revealed that the Department of Veterinary Services in the Ministry of Agriculture would undertake an exercise during the next two weeks to vaccinate domestic animals in the region to protect them from anthrax.
The minister advised people in the affected areas not to touch or eat the dead animals and to report suspected cases of the disease to officials or to the nearest health centres.
High mortality amongst the hippos and buffalos was detected on October 1 when officials from the Ministry of Environment stumbled upon 10 dead hippos floating on the Kavango River.
Following an aerial surveillance, 109 hippo and 20 buffalo carcasses were counted as of Wednesday.
Appolinaris Kanyinga, deputy director for the north-eastern region in the Ministry of Environment, warned that the death toll among wild animals is expected to rise and the authorities will continue with the assessment.
According to the statistics published by the ministry, Namibia is home to between 3,000 and 7,000 hippos that are endemic to Zambezi and the Kavango regions.