TOP SECRET ANIMAL ATTACK FILES
Special Report filed by AAF Correspondent: Larry Walton
from BBC News
hippos ravage river
Monday, October 16, 2000
Rampaging herds of hippopotamuses have been terrorising farmers and fishermen along the Niger river.
A local official in the Tillabery region said the marauding giant mammals are destroying fishing boats, laying waste to rice fields and attacking cattle - and threatening the livelihoods of local farmers and fishermen.
The authorities have ordered that all aggressive hippos be killed, and they have introduced a ban on boats along several stretches of the Niger river where hippo herds have reached unprecedented size.
Local people say the hippos have been coming into Niger from neighbouring Mali.
The giant mammals, which can weigh up to four tonnes, have been attacking boatmen and impeding rice harvesting.
Around a dozen dugout canoes have been smashed or sunk, witnesses told the French news agency.
Local official Saidou Maiga said two hippos that had injured a boatman and damaged rice fields have already been destroyed.
"There are limits, we cannot put humans in danger on the pretext of wanting to protect the animals," said Mr Maiga.
The herbivores are also attacking the cattle that graze along the river banks.
Rice fields are being protected by people armed with machetes, clubs and burning torches, but a local trader said the guards are unable to fend off the ravenous animals when they charge.
Hippopotamuses have canine teeth up to 50 cm (20 inches) long and can run at speeds up to 30 km/h (20 mph).
They are grazers, and eat up to 40kg (85 pounds) of vegetation per night, their favourite food being short grass.
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