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No, #FourwaysHippo not killed in Chartwell, South Africa

#FourwaysHippo started trending on Twitter in South Africa when a hippo was spotted roaming the streets of Chartwell, a community near Fourways in Gauteng, South Africa’s urban province. 

Hippos are famously dangerous, killing an estimated 500 people in Africa each year.

The hippo was first sighted in late December 2020. At the time, authorities said it would likely return to its natural habitat without outside interference. 

But in late January 2021, Twitter users started claiming that the hippo had been killed.

One tweet, from 25 January, reads: “So the hippo that was in Fourways has been slaughtered. This is crazy!!” 

Another included a photo of a dead hippo being skinned and butchered. 

Is this sad news true? We checked.




Hippo safe and sound

In a 25 January statement, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) said it was confident the hippo would return to its home in Hartbeespoort Dam, some 50 kilometres from Chartwell. 

The EWT urged people to not interfere with the hippo. “Please do not put food out or approach the hippo and stay as far away from it as you can.”

The trust, and the national agriculture department, quashed rumours that the hippo had been killed. Both agencies asked people who had seen the animal to alert the EWT.

Nozipho Hlabangana, a spokesperson for the agriculture department, said the hippo was being monitored with drones, with the EWT’s help. She told Eyewitness News that the animal had returned to Hartbeespoort Dam. 

She also said the photo of a hippo carcass being dismembered was from Kenya. Africa Check has been unable to trace the exact incident, but the EWT’s Constant Hoogstad told the Citizen newspaper that the photo was not taken in South Africa.

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