Anthrax outbreak kill 30 hippo

Vets examine dead hippo

Thirty hippos have been killed by a bacterial virus in the Kruger National Park (KNP), the SA National Parks (SANParks) said on Monday.

SANParks said an anthrax outbreak was identified in late August and post mortem results confirmed that most of the dead hippo were infected.

The carcasses were discovered along the Letaba and Olifants rivers.

Spokesman for SANParks, Reynold Thakhuli, explained that anthrax was a highly infectious disease in animals caused by the bacterium, bacillus anthracis.

He said the outbreaks were a natural occurrence in the northern parts of the KNP and were experienced more or less every ten years.

“It is thought that the disease is spread mainly through vultures and blowflies. Vultures are immune against it and they spread the disease by consuming contaminated meat from affected carcasses and then defecating in water bodies where they regularly drink or bath.

“The toxins released by the bacteria when it sporulates are also fatal to some species, ” said Thakhuli.

“It is also closely linked to population density – when certain species like kudu and hippo reach high densities then anthrax spreads more rapidly.”

Park rangers were monitoring the rivers to check whether any more animals had died.

In a previous outbreak, around 2000 animals were killed. – Sapa