While a hippopotamus was shot after having sown terror in a Senegalese village, the question of the protection of this endangered species arises again.
No killing! In Senegal, the hippopotamus is a protected species. But the slaughter of one of these animals in recent days, by Senegalese police, raises the question of the protection of the species. Because if the police had to execute the hippopotamus, it is partly for the danger he represented for the inhabitants of the city of Thilogne. While heading for a nearby village, the mammal was shot dead. It must be said that hippopotamuses suffer from a terrible contradiction: if they are protected, the fact that they kill more and more men sometimes causes tragedies.
However, the experts are surprised at the course of events in recent days: while water and forest agents could have been called to try to neutralize the animal and bring it back to its natural habitat, the nearby river, the police preferred pull. Above all, why have measures not been taken to stem an increasingly frequent phenomenon?
Already in 2016, residents of the Gambia River had tried to warn the local authorities. The National Director of Inland Fisheries, Djibril Signaté, then urged the Ministry of Fisheries to provide the fishermen of Gouloumbou, a village crossed by the river, with motorized metal canoes to avoid attacks by hippopotamuses. In ten years alone, in this region, more than 25 people had been killed by hippos. In October of that year, an animal had been put down, because of the risks of attack.
Self-defense, a weapon of mass destruction
Recurring facts: in March 2019, another hippopotamus was killed this time in the town of Kédougou. If it was a French hunter who had fired, he had acted at the request of the local authorities. The former Minister of the Environment, Haïdar el Ali, had then made a point of recalling that the hippopotamus was particularly essential because it "carries the bread from the trees", of which it disseminates the seeds.
This does not prevent hunters, often authorized to do so by the Senegalese authorities, from regularly killing hippopotamuses which cause trouble in the villages bordering the large rivers.
However, the Wildlife Protection Code, this act is punishable by 1 to 5 years imprisonment. Unless you have a “scientific permit”. However, recalled in 2019 Bamba Cissé, lawyer at the Dakar bar and specialist in wildlife crime, the killing of these animals "is authorized by law in only one case, that of self-defense".
Before each slaughter, it is therefore necessary to measure that a danger threatens someone's life. But in panic, it is often difficult to gauge the situation. "It is up to the competent authorities to ensure that as few hippos as possible are killed," said an expert in Senegalese flora and fauna. No effective policy to try to save this hope has, until today, been put in place”.