LAKE KATWE, Uganda – A little boy was rescued from the jaws of a hungry hippopotamus by a witness who raced to help.
The Uganda Police Force said in a news release that the hippo grabbed the 2-year-old boy “from the head and swallowed half of his body.” The child, identified as Iga Paul, was attacked while playing outside his home in Lake Katwe, police said.
Uganda police credited a witness, Chrispas Bagonza, with saving Iga. Bagonza was nearby and saw what happened. He responded by grabbing stones and throwing them at the animal. The stones scared the animal, causing it to release Iga from its mouth.
Police said Iga recovered fully from the attack and was released from a hospital after receiving a vaccine for rabies.
The hippo was scared back into the lake, and police noted that this was the “first such kind of incident where a hippo strayed from Lake Edward and attacked a young child.” Officials warned all residents who live near animal sanctuaries and habitats to be cautious and aware.
Hippos are the world’s third-largest land mammals, reaching lengths of up to 16.5 feet and weights of up to 9,920 pounds, according to National Geographic.
Hippos are herbivores but possess sharp canines measuring up to 20 inches for fighting. Their jaws are nearly three times stronger than a lion’s. While hippos are vegetarian, they do become aggressive when they sense danger, making them one of Africa’s most dangerous animals, according to National Geographic.