Hundreds of buffalo have drowned in a river in southern Africa in a desperate attempt to escape a pride of lions.
Graphic images show dozens of buffalo carcasses floating in the river. Other images show people cutting up the animals’ remains for meat.
The Serondela Lodge in Namibia posted a video of the dead buffalo on its Facebook page Thursday. The Lodge is located on the Namibian side of the Chobe river that separates Namibia from its southern neighbor Botswana.
“Yesterday morning we witnessed a #tragedy that happened few km west of the lodge on the #banks of the #choberiver Namibian side,” the Lodge posted. A large herd of around 1,000 buffaloes was chased by lions towards the Chobe river, it explained. However, the bank on the Namibian side of the river was too high for the buffalo to scale. “They drowned after who knows how long and through how much panic, stress and pain,” the lodge said.
The Lodge, which opened in March 2018, faces the Chobe National Park, which is located in Botswana on the other side of the Chobe river. The area is famous for being a major “elephant corridor as well as a place where lions hunt their prey, according to the Lodge’s website.
“Initial investigations by authorities on both sides of the Botswana/Namibia Border suggest that an exceptionally large buffalo herd was grazing in Namibia when they stampeded into the Chobe river,” said Botswana’s Environment Ministry, in a statement released Wednesday. “The cause of the stampede is still uncertain and under investigation, however, initial indications are that they were being chased by a pride of lions.”
Officials estimate that more than 400 animals drowned in the river. “Carcasses have largely been removed, most being harvested by community members who live along the river in Namibia,” the Environment Ministry added.
The Ministry said that mass drownings are not an unusual occurrence in the Chobe River. However, Serondela Lodge owner Simone Micheletti told the BBC that the scale of this week’s mass drowning was surprising. Prior to this week’s incident, the largest mass drowning he is aware of was about 50 buffalo.
Micheletti said that he heard the lions roaring on Tuesday night and saw the dead buffalo floating in the Chobe river the next morning.
Cloudy conditions that blocked the moonlight on Tuesday night may have contributed to the mass drownings, according to Micheletti, who noted that the buffalo may not have been able to see.
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More than 400 buffaloes believed to have been chased by lions drowned in a river in northern Bostwana this week, the government said.
Early investigations by authorities in both countries “suggest that an exceptionally large buffalo herd was grazing in Namibia when they stampeded into the Chobe River,” Botswanas Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism said in a statement late Wednesday.
“It is estimated that more than 400 animals drowned due to the massive movement of buffalo trampling, and falling from steep river banks.”