Fighting Nature

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Botswanan authorities and conservation groups are attempting to save hundreds of hippopotamuses stuck in drying pools and ponds in the country’s northwest as the El Niño-induced drought takes its toll on wildlife, the Voice of America reported.

Officials said around 500 hippos are stranded as the scorching heat dries up water sources. More than 200 of the animals are stuck at the northwestern Nxaraga lagoon near the town of Maun.

The country’s wildlife department and Maun-based Save Wildlife Conservation Fund have been pumping water into the lagoon and feeding the animals to prevent them from dying. Proposals to move them to areas with reliable water sources have been rejected because of “high costs and lack of budget.”

Botswana is home to one of the world’s largest hippo populations. The large animals need water to protect their sensitive skin from the heat.

Meanwhile, other hippos are stuck in the mud caused by the receding waters in the Chobe River, which flows from neighboring Namibia. Authorities from both countries are cooperating to drill more boreholes in hopes of refilling the drying channels.

Even so, some local conservationists are telling authorities to allow nature to “take its course.”

The El Niño-induced drought in southern Africa has resulted in limited water, leading to the devastation of food supplies and essential habitats for various wildlife species, wrote researcher Joshua Matanzima in the Conversation.

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