Timothy Mamman-Gawas had anticipated a prosperous rice harvest this year. However, as he ventured to his farm at dusk, he was confronted with a heart-wrenching scene: a group of hippos had infiltrated his land and were devouring his precious crops.
This isn’t the first instance of hippos besieging Mamman-Gawas’s farm. According to PUNCH, these creatures have been an ongoing menace in the Difa community, inflicting substantial losses upon farmers.
The incursion of hippos in Difa can be traced back to their displacement from their natural habitat, largely due to deforestation and human encroachment.
In 1999, Mamman-Gawas was among the first victims of a hippo assault. That year, he lost his entire crop and has been grappling to make a living ever since.
Over the years, the hippopotamus population in the Difa community has surged, and their aggression has escalated. In 2020, Mamman-Gawas resorted to a four-month vigil on his farm to deter these hippos, but he could only salvage 54 bags of rice, a mere fraction of his expected yield.
Other farmers in the community have faced even more dire circumstances. Some have seen their entire harvests decimated by hippo attacks, while others have suffered injuries or even lost their lives to these formidable creatures.
Gombe State’s government has taken certain measures to address the hippopotamus issue, but these efforts have yielded limited success. Farmers are now rallying for more comprehensive solutions, including the erection of a protective barrier around the community to thwart hippo incursions.
Meanwhile, farmers like Mamman-Gawas are caught in a relentless struggle to make ends meet. Their livelihoods hang in the balance, and their families grapple with hunger. The hippopotamus onslaught poses an existential threat to the community, and it’s imperative that the government takes swift action to safeguard the farmers.
It’s worth noting that the hippopotamus, Africa’s largest and deadliest land mammal, has claimed more human lives than any other animal on the continent.