Why more than 400 buffaloes drowned in a Botswana river

When Simone Micheletti heard the sound of lions roaring in the distance on Tuesday night, he didn't think much of it.

A pride of lions likely chased the creatures off the river bank, says local lodge owner

More than 400 buffalo have been found dead in a river on the border of Botswana and Namibia. (Submitted by Simone Micheletti/Serondela Lodge )

When Simone Micheletti heard the sound of lions roaring in the distance on Tuesday night, he didn't think much of it.

He owns and lives in the Serondela Lodge in Namibia, right alongside a national park that is teeming with African wildlife.  

But the next day, he got a call from a neighbour about a massive pile of dead buffalo in the nearby river, so he went to take a look for himself.  

"The scene was really bad. It was a tragedy," Micheletti told As It Happens host Carol Off.  "What happened is we saw all these dead bodies of buffalos who drowned. It was a horrible scene."

More than 400 buffalo were found dead in the Chobe river on the border of Botswana and Namibia. (Submitted by Simone Micheletti/Serondela Lodge )

Botswana officials estimate that roughly 400 buffaloes died, BBC reports. The river flows on the border of Botswana and Namibia and runs through the Chobe National Park.

Initial reports suggest a pride of lions chased the herd into the water, where they drowned. 

Micheletti says there is a pride of about 25 lions in the area that work together to hunt the herd of about 1,000 buffalo.

Lions patrol the area near the Chobe river in south-central Africa. (Submitted by Simone Micheletti/Serondela Lodge )

Tuesday night was dark and cloudy, he said, and the water banks were much higher than usual.

"Lions don't like water. Buffaloes know this," Micheletti said. 

"They tried their luck. But, unfortunately, they chose the wrong spot. There was high banks on the Namibian side so they all got stuck and it was a big stampede."

Simone Micheletti owns the Serondela Lodge near a national park teeming with wildlife. (Submitted by Simone Micheletti/Serondela Lodge)

Mass buffalo deaths of this kind are not uncommon in the area, Michelietti said he has seen this kind of wildlife carnage before — but it's usually dozens, not hundreds.

"The numbers of bodies ... this is really not normal," he said.

Residents remove the drowned buffalo from the Chobe river. (Submitted by Simone Micheletti/Serondela Lodge )

Wildlife in the park is generally protected from hunters, but officials gave locals permission to collect the dead buffaloes for meat.

Photos show dozens of people along the river loading buffaloes into their boats and trucks. 

Micheletti said the river has been pretty much cleared of bodies. 

"It was, I think, a good decision," Micheletti said. "I mean, just imagine 400 carcasses in the water."

People remove buffalo carcasses from the river to take home and eat. (Submitted by Simone Micheletti/Serondela Lodge )

Written by Sheena Goodyear. Produced by Nathan Swinn.


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