BUJUMBURA March 13th (ABP) – Hippos grazing on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Bujumbura City are in trouble in recent months, it was disclosed on Monday March 12th by the Director General of Burundi Environment Protection Authority (OBPE), Mr. Samuel Ndayiragije, in an interview he gave to the ABP. He said that the disordered movement of hippos that has been observed in recent months is unusual. Some find themselves stuck in quarries abandoned in Gisyo in reeds, others can move to Kajaga and Buterere in water treatment plants, he continued.
Regarding the cause of that displacement, Mr. Ndayiragije meant that the hippopotamus consumes a large amount of herbs. An adult hippopotamus consumes between 1,000 and 1,500 kg of herbs a day. For the moment, the edge of Lake Tanganyika, usually intended to feed the hippos of Lake Tanganyika is invaded by extensions of the city of Bujumbura and agriculture. He targeted quarters that are built in areas where those animals previously grazed. That is Kabondo dating from the 1970s and 1980s, Kinindo from the 1980s, Kibenga and Gisyo dating back to the 1990s. It is due to this situation that hippos leave their usual environment to go in search of their food, herbs.
The other cause he cited is related to the small size of grazing areas. In case of fighting between the males to occupy the field, the one that is defeated must absolutely leave the herd and go hide in places where it can graze alone. For females, the situation is similar. They can also argue and an injured animal flees the others. The place where hippos are comfortable is in the park of Ruvubu. Mr. Ndayiragije also pointed out that apart from those two causes that threaten the lives of hippos, an animal that ventures outside the protected area (in the park) is endangered because residents run behind at the search for meat.
There is also a human-wildlife conflict; the hippos like to graze soft grass, very young corn, rice too, hence most of the time they find themselves in difficulties with the farmers.
In order to help those hippos currently in danger, the OBPE Director General pointed out that the only solution is to be able to remove some parts occupied by houses and crops, and leave them to those animals as a grazing area, but it’s difficult, he said. He also said that the OBPE is facing a problem where it has to save what is still to be saved, only 150 meters from the buffer zone at Lake Tanganyika, as stipulated in the water code.
For those who do not comply with the laws and regulations in force, Mr. Ndayiragije indicated that there are sanctions reserved for them, but unfortunately that pass in sometimes over endless trials, hence it would be necessary to adopt a new environment code, which will be done very soon, because the one in force dates from the 2000s. He ended his remarks by saying that the OBPE has already drawn the law on the biodiversity which returns in the sense of the protection of fauna and flora, which law is currently on the government’s table for adoption. That law contains penalties to be imposed on all those who erect buildings in the buffer zone.