RUNDU - Thirty-one-year old Frans Kupembona is recovering in the Rundu Intermediate Hospital while his son escaped unhurt after their canoe was rammed by a hippo in Ndiyona Constituency.
Kupembona, who says he was born at Shamangorwa village in Ndiyona, says he frequently crosses the river as he lives on its other side where he has settled with his family after getting married to a woman living across the river.
According to him, on Friday morning he was intended to cross the river to bring his 15-year-old son to a hospital on the Namibian side of the river and was paddling a traditional canoe, known in the local Rukwangali language as ‘wato’, when a hippo attacked them and capsized their canoe.
“The hippo bit me on my thigh but luckily it didn’t [damage] any bone. I tried to defend myself and it released me and I rushed for my child before he could drown, he was not touched by the hippo and we immediately swim back to the Angolan side of the river for safety. The Angolan police rushed to the scene and brought us to the hospital at Nyangana from where I was later transferred to Rundu hospital that same Friday,” the hippo attack survivor narrated his scary ordeal.
Kupembona told New Era that although he frequently cross the river, this has never happened to him before, an encounter with a angry hippo is usually deadly but through the grace of God, Kupembona survived to tell his tale, though he suffered multiple deep lacerations to his right leg.
“These encounters with hippos have happened to many people but for me this is the first time in my many years of using the river to crossover to the other side and back. I had an x-ray and I was told that my bones aren’t broken, the hippo just injured me with several bites on my right thigh,” he said.
Although hippos primarily eat plants, munching tens of kilograms of grass each day, hippos are one of the most aggressive animals on earth. They can snap a canoe in half with their powerful jaws, and research has shown this semiaquatic mammal kills at least 500 people in Africa each year.
The hippopotamus is considered to be very aggressive and has been reported as charging and attacking boats, canoes and it can easily capsize small boats.