Gombe farmers decry incessant hippopotamus attacks

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Some dry-season farmers in the Malleri community in the Kwami Local Government Area of Gombe State have expressed concerns over hippopotamus attacks ravaging their farmlands.

The farmers, who spoke in separate interviews on Tuesday in the community, said incessant hippos’ attacks exposed them to losses.

One of the farmers, Hussaini Malleri, said he had been cultivating his farmland for the past 25 years, adding that hippos attacks were a source of concern to the farmers.

“We are not happy; hippos are attacking our farmlands. On Thursday, over 20 farmers lost Okra and rice plantations to the hippos.

“The animals swept through farmlands, feeding on rice, beans, okra and other vegetables.

“Considering the high cost of inputs and the incessant hippos’ attack on farmlands, it is difficult for us to make a profit,” he said.

Mr Malleri said the farmers had been reporting the matter to the authorities but to no avail.

“we can’t kill hippos because we love them too; we want them to be restricted to protect our means of livelihood.”

Also, Abdullahi Mohammed, a rice grower, said incessant hippos’ attacks had made crop production less attractive despite the many youths who engaged in dry season activities.

“Accessing farm inputs is difficult due to exorbitant prices; however, after cultivating your crops, hippos will eat and destroy it.”

Another farmer, Isa Mohammed, urged the government to support farmers in the community to encourage irrigation farming and boost food security.

Mr Mohammed said farmers in the community cultivated over 1,000 bags of rice, lamenting that the incessant animal attacks and other challenges impeded production.

For his part, Yusuf Ibrahim said the rampaging animals had forced many youths out of farms due to the destruction of the produce.

“Previously, some people from the Gombe metropolis cultivated farmlands and engaged youths in the community, but they stopped coming due to hippos-related loses,” he said.

He, therefore, urged the state government and other relevant authorities to adopt proactive measures to address the problem.

Reacting, Ismaila Uba-Misilli, director-general, of press affairs of the Government House, Gombe, said the affected farmlands were under the purview of the Upper Benue River Basin Development Authority (BRBDA).

Mr Uba-Misilli reiterated the government’s commitment to addressing any issue affecting state citizens towards improving their livelihoods and protecting lives and property.

“We have taken conscious steps towards finding a lasting solution to this issue to ensure that human-hippos cohabit peacefully without causing harm to each other,” he said.

The DG said that officials of the Gombe State government met with Lynne Baker, a United States-based conservation biologist, and some non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in May 2022 to discuss how to establish a hippos colony.

He said that hippos had been classified as vulnerable species, hence the need to protect and preserve them for posterity.

“Hippos are a threatened and important species that provides ecological value to the aquatic ecosystem, hence the move by the government to establish the colony and use it as a tourist site.”

(NAN)