KINSHASA, Sept 13 – A hippopotamus killed a member of Democratic Republic of Congo government forces at Virunga National Park while he was fishing illegally, a local environmental NGO said on Saturday.
Bantu Lukamba of the IDPE non-governmental organisation told AFP that Private Sebagendi was killed Thursday when he was fishing along with five other people on Lake Edward in spite of a fishing ban.
"As he could not swim he was devoured by the hippo which had earlier overturned their boat," he said adding that the incident was the first of its kind in the park which covers an area of 790,000 hectares (1.95 million acres).
Usually, "they (the military) shoot at the animals," he said.
According to UNESCO the park which borders Uganda comprises an outstanding diversity of habitats, ranging from swamps and steppes to the snowfields of Rwenzori at an altitude of over 5,000 meters (16,400 feet), and from lava plains to savannahs on the slopes of volcanoes.
Mountain gorillas are found in the park, some 20,000 hippopotamuses live in the rivers and birds from Siberia spend the winter there, the United Nations cultural organisation said on its website.
IDPE said "at least 18 animals including seven elephants, four hippopotamuses and a lion were killed in the park between late August and early September".