Seconds after a massive hippo bull stormed towards Botha, it moved towards the Klein Olifants River. It was then that the heads of a hippo cow and hippo calf poked out from the deep waters.
“It sounded like a whale when the hippo bull came towards me!”
The presence of the small hippo school of three was first flagged by another resident, Louis Swiegers this past weekend, spotting the cow near a low water bridge.
Animal protection was contacted and shown hippo tracks, and the presence of the hippos was confirmed.
When Middelburg Observer journalists got to the scene, they found an area completely flattened by the hippos, presumably used as a thoroughfare.
Residents Tshepo and Edward Mokswena who have been living next to the Klein Olifants River for four months told Middelburg Observer they had seen at least two hippos over the past few days.
Another resident, Andries Pretorius, who lives in a tent said he heard the unmistakable noise of hippos next to his tent. He was however too scared to see for himself.
Hippos are social animals, usually living in schools of 10 to 20.
Schools are made up of hippo cows and calves, and are headed by a dominant male. Occasionally, non-mating males are tolerated in the group.
Hippos can weigh up to 3 200kg.
In captivity, hippos can live up to 50 years.
Hippo cows give birth every two years, and calves can suckle underwater.
They kill more people in Africa than any other animal, but are herbivores, scoffing down up to 35kg of grass at night, when they are most active.
Edited and translated from Afrikaans by Nica Richards.