On Saturday 9 February, CLZ rescued an orphaned baby hippo, estimated to be about 2 weeks old. Christened “Douglas” the calf was observed by CLZ for several hours, completely alone and must have been either been orphaned or abandoned by his mother. For the first 1-2 weeks after giving birth, hippo mothers leave the pod to bond with their young. Douglas would almost certainly not have survived the night without his mother for protection from predators.
The hippo (Hippotamus Amphibius) is a vulnerable species on the IUCN species list and although they may seem common in the Lower Zambezi, we have the rare privilege of being home to one of Africa’s densest populations. The most recent global population estimates suggest that over the past 10 years there has been a 7–20% decline in Common Hippo populations. Although the causes of the population decline are known (exploitation and habitat loss), the threats have not ceased, nor is there evidence the threats will be removed in the near future.
Settled in his new home complete with plunge pool, Douglas is now feeding from a bottle with a formula put together on advice from various hippo experts including Karen Trendler. Every 2 hours Douglas is fed 1.25 litres of milk with 2 egg yolks and protexin vitamin supplements. His skin is hydrated with aqueous cream and all equipment is sterilised thoroughly. CLZ has employed two carers to ensure that Douglas has 24-hour supervision as well as constructing and maintaining his pen as a safe and comfortable space for him. As a baby hippo he is very needy but loving too!
ZAWA will ultimately decide the future of Douglas and we will keep you updated with progress. Huge thanks to Gerry Carben, Riccardo Garbaccio, Nat, Bbakasa and Sam at Royal Zambezi Lodge, Anna Tolan, Rachael Murton and everybody else who has assisted with time, efforts and supplies.
If you would like to help us look after Douglas we would be very grateful of any contributions big or small at www.virginmoneygiving.com/clz