A BOY (11) from Bambadzi Village in Bulilima District, Matabeleland South Province is lucky not only to be alive but also to be still having his left hand after being mauled by a hippopotamus on Wednesday morning.
The Gonde Primary School Grade Five pupil is admitted to Plumtree District Hospital.
He has a deep, hair-raising wound on his left hand.
Bulilima Rural District Council chief executive officer Mr John Brown Ncube confirmed the attack which happened as Provident Ndlovu had just left home for school.
“It was in the morning as the boy was going to school. His grandmother says she heard some funny noise coming from the kraal and went to investigate. The boy left the homestead for school but before he could go far, he heard dogs barking and running in his direction. A hippopotamus emerged and mauled his left hand just below the elbow,” he said.
She said the boy was saved by an elderly man who heard his loud cry and rushed to scare away the beast.
Bulilima RDC deployed a hunter to track and kill the animal.
Mr Ncube said the boy is lucky to have survived as the wild animal could have killed him.
He said health officials at Plumtree Hospital advised that there won’t be any need to amputate his hand, but that must be confirmed by an expert in Bulawayo.
“The boy was taken to Madlambudzi Clinic before he was transferred to Plumtree hospital. We visited him at the hospital and assisted him to get some of the urgent medication that was needed like antibiotics. He will be transferred to one of the central hospitals in Bulawayo but he is in a stable condition,” he said.
Mr Ncube said there was human-wildlife conflict in the area as a lot of animals are roaming in the villages.
He said the main problem was caused by villagers who stole the 32,5km electric fence which was put by Government in the 1990s.
“The electric fence was connected to the Botswana boundary and stretched up to Tsholotsho. It was about one thousand kilowatts and wild animals never dared to come close. But our people were very irresponsible and stole all the wire. Some of the stolen property can be seen in the villages. This opened the flood gates for wild animals to roam all over and it is not a good situation,” he said.
Mr Ncube said council is looking for partners who could assist to put another electric fence so that the problem is addressed.
He said dangerous animals like buffaloes and lions are often spotted in the area as well.
Mr Ncube said some wild animals come from as far as Botswana and Tsholotsho.
“We are trying to have a holistic approach to the problem by also addressing the water situation for wild animals. We are working on rehabilitating Maitengwe Dam so that wild animals have enough water. The dam will also supply villagers through an irrigation scheme,” he said.
The CEO said although the hippopotamus was shot down there is a possibility that there are others in the area.
The boy’s grandmother, Mrs Thandekile Ndebele said officials at Plumtree hospital said the schoolboy will be transferred to Bulawayo to be seen by a specialist.
“This is a tragedy but I thank God for it could have been worse than this. I have been told that he will be transferred to Bulawayo to be seen by a specialist who will advise further,” she said.
“He is a son of my daughter who is in South Africa but she is struggling there. I informed her about what happened and she said she has no money to assist me. At the moment I really don’t know how much will be required but I don’t have any finances to meet the costs. I thank the Bulilima Rural District council for assisting me get the first medication,” she said.
The boy’s grandmother who can be reached on cell number 0782860796 appealed for assistance to meet the medical costs as she is the one providing for his upkeep.
Provident said he never saw where the hippopotamus came from.
“I had just left home for school and I just heard my hand being violently grabbed. I don’t know what happened after that. I just found myself home in agony and my hand in excruciating pain and blood was all over,” he said.
ZimParks spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo did not respond to questions that Chronicle sent to him on the matter.