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Earlier this week we woke up to a big, grunting surprise. A hippo, slightly injured to the back leg, had taken refuge in our infinity pool at Kafunta River Lodge


Although quite entertaining for our guests having their early morning tea a few metres away, it was quite a headache for the operations manager Rob Beadel and our maintenance staff. The question was, how to get the beast out without further injuring it?

The hippo had been seen around the lodge and while he seemed to have a small back leg injury, it was nothing that would require human intervention. This said, we didn’t want him to become stressed and injure himself more.

The pool has a shallow side with steps, but it seemed the hippo was not willing to walk out so easily. The shallow side is opposite the flood plains and the river, so naturally it’s not the direction the hippo would be willing to take during the day.

We called the park authorities to send some scouts to assist, but in the meantime the hippo quite enjoyed the clear water and the view!


As the day went by, and there was still no sign of the rescue team, Rob decided to start draining the pool. At the same time, several staff members equipped with bamboo sticks started tapping on the water, to try to coerce the animal towards the shallow end. While he was no doubt annoyed and a bit upset over the whole thing, the hippo was never actually touched with the sticks as they were just used to shepherd him in the right direction.

Hippo-makes-a-splash Coercing-hippo Hippo-in-pool

After a few ‘charges’ towards the offenders, the hippo did eventually climb the steps and crossed the lodge without further ado.

Hippo-climbing-out-of-pool Hippo-leaving

What an exciting day, but mostly a relief that we did not incur more injuries to the young hippo. And a day later, it was also a relief not to find it back in the same spot!

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Kafunta Safaris

Kafunta Safaris is a safari operator in South Luangwa, Zambia, offering exceptional services at their three camps. A combined stay at Kafunta River Lodge and Island Bush Camp offers an intimate and authentic safari experience to accompany the renowned wilderness and spectacular wildlife of South Luangwa National Park.