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Panic over hippo deaths

Updated Thursday, September 17th 2009 at 00:00 GMT +3
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By Harold Ayodo

Scientists are at their wits end trying to save the hippo as drought ravages Tsavo West National Park, killing the mammal in droves.

In the last four months alone, 80 hippos have died of starvation at the park.

According to the Kenya Wildlife Service ( KWS) 25 hippos died in July and August forcing the organisation to launch a feeding programme in a bid to prevent the mammal from joining the list of endangered animal. The park spent Sh1.2 million to buy and transport hay from Naivasha in August for feeding the animals.

Tsavo West National Park Deputy Park Warden Christine Boit says a bale of hay costs Sh400 yet the progamme was not budgeted for. "We are using funds from a supplementary budget that will soon run out," she says.

Endangered wildlife

If the funds run out the hippo may join the list of endangered wildlife in Tsavo that includes the elephant, black rhino, antelope, gravy zebras, gazelle and African wild dog.

Carcasses of hippos strewn across the park’s landscape paint a stark picture of a dire situation.

Hippos rely on hay from Kenya Wildlife Service.

[PHOTOS: MARTIN MUKANGU and KWS]

Stench from decomposing carcasses is a warning to visitors of what to expect.

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