Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Hippos of Tsavo West, Kenya

A devastating drought is occurring in Tsavo National Park in Kenya, which is bringing wildlife in the area to the edge of catastrophe. 

As hippos are semi-aquatic, inhabiting rivers and lakes, they are particularly affected by the drought.  There is not enough vegetation for the hippos to eat, which, along with a reduction in water levels, has resulted in hippos dying at an alarming rate.

The remaining hippos are literally on the brink of survival.

Born Free has already provided emergency funds to provide food for the remaining hippos, but more is desperately needed until the rains arrive and the vegetation starts to grow again.

Action MUST be taken urgently before we lose another hippo to the scorching sun – if you would like to donate, please click here.

Water levels are dropping
Hippos are suffering

Latest update – 29th September 2009:

Mzima Springs

Mzima Springs in Kenya is world famous for its magnificent pods of hippos.  Immortalised in numerous films, most famously in Alan Root’s ‘Mzima’, the crystal clear waters of Mzima Springs in Kenya’s Tsavo West National Park are justly renowned around the world.  However, the recent drought has brought this oasis to the brink of disaster, with all vegetation around the Springs devastated by the thousands of animals flocking there in desperate search for water.  As a result, the hippos had nothing to eat and were starving to death.

During our researchers’ last visit to Tsavo in 9 hippos were counted at Mzima Springs. However, during the recent survey in late September only 5 hippos were spotted in the entire pool.

Samples were taken downstream to find out if the hippos had migrated to other pools. At the confluence of the Tsavo river tributaries, a hippo’s carcass was discovered that had been there for about a week. A kilometre or so further on another hippo carcass was discovered on the riverbank though it could not be established how long it had been there.

The last death here was recorded by the KWS early this month.

Finch Hattons & Kitani bridge

Before the drought set in early this year there were 40 healthy hippos.  However, when in July there were just 9 hippos left.  KWS provided funding to feed the hippos with hay and vegetable leftovers from the site kitchen. The hippos downstream and nearby pools migrated to the Finch Hattons ranch, raising the population to 15 hippos on August 2009. Currently, there are 24 hippos.

No hippo were spotted at Kitani bridge.

The progress here seems to be good, the hippos appear fairly healthy. The water level is also good giving the hippos a chance to submerge in the pool.

The hippos consume on average 3 sack of Maize stock, 8 bails of hay and a sack of mixed kales & cabbage left- over from the lodge. All these food are mixed with molasses and water to make them palatable.

The last death at Finch Hattons was recorded at the beginning of September this year.

Rhino Valley & Ngulia Valley

The Rhino and Ngulia valleys had on average a total of 70 hippos before the drought. Currently there are 24 and 25 hippos at Rhino and Ngulia valley respectively.

The two pools are muddy with extremely low water level. The springs that feed the pools with water are dry. The water is blackish in colour and has a foul smell with a floating hippo carcass in the Rhino valley pool. On either shores of the pools was a decaying carcasses a hippo.

The KWS Tsavo West national park management has blocked the roads that lead to the pools to bar tourists accessing the hippos pools because of the foul smell from the rotting carcasses and the stagnant water.

These hippos are in dire need of help. With the ongoing BFF and other well-wishers feeding programme, the hippos have been able to survive so far.

However, with the reduction in water levels, the lives of the hippos are in danger.

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