About 350 hippos and buffalos have been killed in Kruger National Park, South Africa's biggest wildlife park, in an attempt to relieve the impact of the region's most severe drought in more than three decades. Millions of people in the region are in need of food amid the drought crisis.
The national parks service said that 7,500 hippos and 47,000 buffalos in Kruger National Park are at their highest numbers ever, the Associated Press (AP) reported. Park officials plan to distribute meat from the killed animals to poor communities on the park's perimeter to help amid the drought. Ike Phaahla, a parks service spokesman, reportedly said that large numbers of hippos and buffalos, which consume large amounts of vegetation, were also expected to die because of the drought.
Rangers are targeting hippos in "small natural pools where they have concentrated in unnatural high densities, defecate in the water, making it unusable to other animals," Phaahla wrote in an email to AP.
In the early 1990s, a severe drought reduced the Kruger park's buffalo population by more than half to about 14,000. However, the population rose since and is now around 47,000.
According to park officials, hippos cause trouble during droughts as they can't feed as widely as other animals and return to water pools during the day after grazing by night.