Two Buffalo were spotted roaming the streets of Mahikeng this morning, 26 February 2020, near the NWU Mahikeng Campus. The Department immediately dispatched its problem Animal Control Specialist and Biodiversity Conservation Officers to the scene to analyse and contain the situation.

The two buffalo were found to be at the church opposite the NWU Campus and together with traffic officers and SAPS, the animals were contained in the church yard. A large crowd had gathered around the church to witness the incident, and this posed a further threat to the situation. Buffalos are very aggressive and have a tendency to attack humans. They are also infectious and highly susceptible to foot and mouth disease, and even without symptoms they nonetheless carry the virus and may be able to transmit it to others.

The two buffalo became increasingly excited and displayed numerous instances of aggressiveness. Given the situation and the lives at risk, the Department looked at various options however concluded that the animals had to be put down. “We were forced to act with speed given the situation at hand, the aggressiveness of the animals and the veterinary precautions, the decision was taken to put the two buffalo down,” said Jonathan Denga, Director for Biodiversity Management.

The Director for Veterinary Services from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Dr. Langa Madyibi, was also on site to analyse the situation. “These animals had become increasingly excited and tranquilising them would have aggravated them even more, and there was a great possibility that they would attack,” said. Dr. Madyibi. He also noted that because of the animals current state the tranquiliser would take a considerably longer time to gain effect, given their adrenaline levels. This too posed an even greater threat to onlookers and the Departments Environmental officials dealing with the situation.

A docket has been opened and the Department will extensively investigate the origin of the buffalos and how they managed to be within a central area of town. Given the location of the animals the Department fears that they may have been transported illegally and either were let loose or escaped from the mode of transport. “We cannot rule out criminal elements given the fact that these animals were found in the centre of a bustling town and having only been spotted in that specific area”, concluded Mr Denga.

The investigation is ongoing and the Department calls on anyone with more information to contact the biodiversity management unit. The Department notes that this was not the ideal outcome although given the condition of the animals and the situation at hand where human lives were potentially at risk, the duty to put them down was discharged swiftly.